by Marci Piltz

Reporter

Warren -- The April 2006 conviction of an Aurora man on charges he fatally stabbed his wife in 2005 has been overturned by an Ohio appeals court.

James K. Warner, 58, was found guilty by a jury in Portage County Common Pleas Court of two counts of murder for the November 2005 death of his wife, Carolyn Warner.

The jury found Warner not guilty of aggravated murder, which would have meant his wife's death was premeditated.

Judge John Enlow sentenced Warner to 15 years to life in prison, and Warner is incarcerated at the Toledo Correctional Institute, according to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections Web site.

In the June 15 decision, judges from the 11th District Court of Appeals in Warren ordered a new trial for Warner because of the trial court's "failure to give an instruction on voluntary manslaughter and aggravated assault" and its failure to allow certain expert testimony during the trial.

Police and fire officials were called to the Warner home on Parkview Drive in Aurora on Nov. 14, 2005 after James Warner's brother told emergency dispatchers he found two cars running in the attached garage of the home and couldn't get an answer at the door.

That day, James Warner was found unconscious on a couch of the home and Carolyn Warner's body was found wrapped in blankets on the kitchen floor.

She had been stabbed numerous times and was pronounced dead at the scene. James Warner was flown to a hyperbolic chamber at St. Vincent's Hospital for treatment of carbon monoxide poisoning.

During Warner's trial, the Portage County prosecutor's office argued that Warner had plotted to kill his wife since the day before, when they allege he had gone to visit family members who later testified in court that Warner had been acting "strange" when they last saw him and that he'd been giving away personal belongings.

WARNER'S attorney, Donald Butler, had argued that Carolyn Warner's death was an accident and came after she first attacked her husband with a skillet and then a knife.

His self-defense actions resulted in her death and caused him to panic, then attempt suicide, Butler had said. He also had told jurors that Warner, a Vietnam War veteran, suffered from post traumatic stress disorder.

The expert testimony, according to the appellate decision, could have informed jurors how Warner's condition may have had an effect on his mental state during the altercation.

Both defense and prosecuting attorneys had said during the trial that the couple had a history of domestic problems, and divorce proceedings had been started twice but were dismissed both times, court records showed.

The appellate court ruled that since Warner was found not guilty of aggravated murder by the jury that heard his 2006 trial, he may not be retried on that charge in a new trial.

The court also cautions prosecutors in its opinion on certain photos that were admitted into evidence in the original trial, saying the "gruesome" nature of the photos could be considered prejudicial to the case.

Appellate judges William O'Neill and Colleen Mary O'Toole concurred on the decision to order a new trial, while Judge Diane V. Grendell disagreed and affirmed Warner's conviction.

Portage County Prosecutor Victor Vigluicci has been out of the country and could not be reached for comment on the appellate decision.

Editor's note: Piltz is a reporter for the Record-Courier.

E-mail: mpiltz@recordpub.com

Telephone: 330-296-9657