Girdy was accused in the death of fellow inmate Earl Elder some time between the night of Apr. 11 and the morning of Apr. 12, 1993, during the Lucasville prison riot. Elder's body had been thrown out in the recreation yard, and, according to special prosecutor Mark Piepmeier, it was later discovered that he had been beaten, burned and stabbed approximately 160 times.
The charge against Girdy reportedly stemmed from a deposition taken by Alice Lynd, attorney for inmate George Szkates. “Szkates had been convicted in Elder's murder and Alice Lynd was handling his appeal, when, during an interview with other inmates Girdy apparently told her that not only had Szkates not killed Elder, but that he, Girdy had.”
Piepmeier said that he then kept attempting to get Lynd to come and talk to the the prosecutors about Girdy, as they planned to charge him with murder, but that she refused.
Piepmeier said that after repeatedly being ordered to testify by the court, spending a short time in jail, and having an appeals court uphold the order to testify, she testified and then Girdy was charged.
Yesterday, a jury was seated and was taken to SOCF for a tour of some of the cell blocks. “This gave them a sense of the enormity of the situation and the size of a cell block,” said Piepmeier.
After conferring with his attorney, Mike Mearan this morning, Girdy signed the agreement to plea “no contest” to the murder charge. He was found guilty by Judge Harcha and sentenced to 15 years to life to run concurrent with his current sentence.
Judge Harcha read each of the rights that Girdy had waived and asked him if he agreed, and Girdy responded “yes” to each of them.
Mearan took the time to speak on behalf of his client, saying that he appreciated the cooperation of all parties involved and especially Girdy.
“I appreciate the professional way Mr. Girdy has acted during the preparation for this trial,” Mearan said. “I know that several people lost their lives during the riot and it is regrettable that that happened.” But my client was in his bunk watching a basketball game when the riot broke out and unfortunately he was drawn into the situation.”
Mearan said that it was his hope that soon Girdy would be able to return to society and be a productive citizen.
“We are satisfied with the sentence,” said Piepmeier. “We always want to get something to life in these cases.”
Piepmeier said that in all the cases stemming from the riot they have allowed the sentences to be retroactive to the date of Apr. 12, 1993, giving the inmates credit for time served since the riot.
Girdy is serving eight to 25 years for each of two manslaughter convictions that occurred while he was serving sentences for aggravated burglary and aggravated robbery from Franklin County. Before Tuesday's conviction, he was last sentenced to 30 to 75 years.
The riot broke out Easter weekend of 1993 in cell block “J” at SOCF and lasted 11 days, resulting in the death of Corrections Officer Robert Vallandingham and nine inmates.
FRANK LEWIS can be reached at (740)353-3101 ext. 232