Akron Beacon-Journal

Wed, Apr. 18, 2007

Resh Not Guilty
State accepts verdict

By Ed Meyer
Beacon Journal staff writer

RAVENNA - Randy Resh was found not guilty of all charges by a Portage County jury this morning in connection with the 1988 slaying of Connie Nardi.

As the jury foreman read the verdicts, beginning with attempted rape and proceeding to involuntary manslaughter and, finally, the charge of murder, Resh raised his head at the defense table and took a deep breath.

``My first thought was: `Thank God','' he said. ``My heart was beating a mile a minute. I thought it was going to jump out of my chest.''

Assistant County Prosecutor Thomas R. Buchanan, who handled the retrial for the state, addressed the jury moments after the verdict and told the panel: ``It was a tough case. We appreciate your deliberations. The state of Ohio accepts it.''

Buchanan said he, his assistants on the case and head county prosecutor Victor V. Vigluicci will need to meet on the impending retrial of Resh's lifelong friend, Bob Gondor, and ``look at it long and hard'' before deciding whether to proceed to trial.

Gondor's retrial, originally scheduled to beging today, was delayed earlier this week until May 14.

After more than 10 years of post-conviction appeals, the Ohio Supreme Court vacated the convictions of Resh and Gondor and ordered new trials in a unanimous decision on Dec. 26.

Randy Resh
Randy Resh reacts as not guilty verdicts are read.
Resh and Gondor embrace
Randy Resh (L) hugs Bob Gondor at Gondor's home after verdict.
The high court decision affirmed the first new-trial order by a visiting judge who reviewed the presentation of evidence and testimony during an eight-day hearing in 2002.

Both rulings were based on a finding that the original lawyers for Resh and Gondor failed to use many pieces of potentially exonerating evidence at their first trials in 1990.

The two men, friends since the fourth grade at Mantua Center Elementary School, spent more than 16 years in prison before being freed on bond in January following the high court decision.

Troy Busta, the first man charged and convicted of the crime, was the state's star witness -- and its only eyewitness to the murder -- at both trials.

Common Pleas Judge Laurie J. Pittman, who handled Resh's retrial, ordered everybody in the courtroom to remain in their seats for five minutes after the verdicts were read, giving the seven men and five women on the jury time to collect their belongings and leave the courthouse.

The jury foreman and the other members of the panel could not be reached for comment before they left, but several openly wept in the jury box as Resh was hugged by his defense lawyers in the moments after the verdicts.

Family members of Resh, including his father, Guy, and his mother, Eleanor, also wept before embracing their son as he talked to television crews and reporters about the verdicts.

Asked what he thought the jury's decision was based on, Resh said: ``I think what swayed them was that they ultimately didn't believe Troy Busta.''

The victim's mother, Ruth Randlett of Garrettsville, and other friends and family members left the courtroom before they could be reached for comment. Earlier, Randlett twice declined to comment on the case.

Police/Prosecutor Misconduct
Innocent Imprisoned

Truth in Justice