By a 7-3 margin, the Ohio Parole Board voted recently in favor of granting Rusty Mootispaw release from prison on or after Feb. 16, 2021 — subject to strict conditions of parole.
Mootispaw has served 39 years in prison after being convicted in 1981 of murdering Lillian McCarty, an 85-year-old Washington C.H. woman.
In the Ohio Parole Board decision and minutes document released this week, the board found that Mootispaw, 57, “has served a sufficient portion of his sentence, has completed programming to abate his risk to reoffend, has made an acceptable institutional adjustment and has a supportive release plan thereby rendering him suitable for release onto parole supervision at this time.”
Mootispaw’s parole conditions will include five years of supervision at a very high supervision level, according to the board, placement to be approved by the board, no change of residence without prior approval of the board, substance abuse screening and programming if indicated, and a case plan to be developed.
Before the Dec. 15 Ohio Parole Board full hearing, Fayette County Prosecutor Jess Weade encouraged community members to visit the board’s website and oppose Mootispaw’s release. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the hearing was conducted via video conference. The Fayette County Prosecutor’s Office opposed his parole during the video conference.
“I would like to thank the numerous individuals that contacted the Ohio Parole Board asking for continued incarceration,” Weade wrote in a statement. “The chair noted that they received your requests. Unfortunately, they did not agree with our assessment.”
Weade also said, “My heart goes out to the family members of his victim, Lillian McCarty, and the family members and victims of his many other crimes. The parole board did announce that he would be under strict supervision and monitoring.”
Mootispaw was indicted on charges of aggravated murder, aggravated burglary, and complicity to aggravated burglary after he broke into McCarty’s home and murdered her. Mootispaw, who is being held at Chillicothe Correctional, pleaded guilty to an amended indictment charging a single count of murder, and was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.
He has appealed for post-conviction relief and to withdraw his guilty plea multiple times. Most recently in 2014, Mootispaw asked the trial court to withdraw his guilty plea, alleging the plea was coerced, arguing that he had newly discovered evidence in the form of an affidavit from former Fayette County Prosecutor James Kiger.
The trial court has denied each of those motions and the 12th District Court of Appeals has affirmed the decisions.
On Oct. 1, the Ohio Parole Board concluded by majority vote that Mootispaw “is suitable for release at this time and recommends a parole pending full board determination.”
In the minutes from the board’s hearing, the rationale was explained as: “The offender has served over thirty-nine (39) years towards his sentence of fifteen (15) to Life for the offense of Murder. The aggravating factors in this case include: the age of the victim, the brutality of the offense, the criminal history of the offender, victim impact, and community opposition. The case is mitigated by the age of the offender at the time of the offense. The offender has taken risk relevant programming to abate his risk to re-offend and has demonstrated adequate institutional conduct.”
In the past, petitions to oppose Mootispaw’s release have been circulated online and in person.
Reach Record-Herald Editor Ryan Carter at 740-313-0352.