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Court date set for man who says he was framed by now-imprisoned detective

By Matt Westerhold • Jan 20, 2019 at 4:00 PM

FREMONT — A man fighting to clear his name who contends former sheriff’s detective Sean O’Connell framed him for a crime he didn’t commit will get a new hearing under a new judge.

But the public won’t have access to what transpires during the May 31 telephone conference hearing. 

Patrick Baker Sr. spent more than a year in a state prison after a 2015 trial in Sandusky County Judge John Dewey’s court that lasted less than one hour in which O’Connell was a chief witness.

O’Connell was sent to prison in September for tampering with evidence during his investigation of the Heather Bogle homicide. He acknowledged during his sentencing he manufactured evidence against three people he falsely accused of being involved in Bogle’s murder. Numerous other families of crime victims complained about similar issues with O’Connell. 

Watch: Visiting judge scolds convicted detective

Baker contends O’Connell manufactured evidence in his case, too, coaching two people who did commit the burglary he was accused in to implicate him. There was no physical evidence in the case, and Baker’s conviction was overturned by an appeals court, which cited Dewey for mistakes in sentencing Baker.

Baker was freed from prison in 2016, and a special prosecutor declined to re-file the charge, saying there was no evidence against him.

In April 2018, an attorney for Baker filed a lawsuit seeking to have Baker declared a wrongfully imprisoned person. The case was assigned to the Ohio Attorney General’s office in former Sandusky County Common Pleas Judge John Hart’s courtroom. Prosecutors for former attorney general Mike DeWine, who was sworn in as Ohio governor on Monday, previously filed a motion arguing that Baker must prove his innocence in order to win the lawsuit.

Hart was personal friends with O’Connell, having recused himself from his criminal case previously. He did not do the same thing, however, for Baker’s lawsuit seeking to clear his name.

Hart, who was appointed to fill the unexpired term of the late Judge Barbara Anstead in May 2017, was defeated for election by Jeremiah Ray in November.

A telephone hearing — which blocks the public from knowing what is discussed — is scheduled for May 31 in Ray’s courtroom.  

Read more: O’Connell’s many botched cases

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