Crawford County Murder, Burglary Convictions Upheld by Appeals Court

Crawford County Murder, Burglary Convictions Upheld by Appeals Court

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Two murder convictions and a burglary conviction in Crawford County have been upheld by the Third District Court of Appeal.

In the first case, Robert W. Pinyerd, 42, was convicted of the shooting death of Cynthia Jo Heath, 47, by a jury of five women and seven men in April 2023 after a weeklong trial. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole plus three years in prison for possession of a firearm, to be served consecutively, for aggravated murder.

The case was investigated by the Crestline Police Department and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI).

Pinyerd argued in his appeal that his due process rights were violated when the state was allowed to call a witness a week before trial, according to a statement from Crawford County Prosecutor Matthew Crall. The appeals court found that the trial court took sufficient steps to protect the defendant’s rights and that the state acted in good faith in providing information to the defendant.

Pinyerd also challenged that the weight of the evidence was insufficient to support a conviction. The Court of Appeal disagreed and the conviction was upheld.

In a murder case that also occurred in Crestline, Jacqueline D. Montgomery, 44, was convicted by a jury of one count of murder, an unspecified felony, in April 2023.

She was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison for murder, the same sentence her husband, Timothy Montgomery, received after being convicted of the same offense in a jury trial on two counts of murder. The charges stem from their role in the beating death of Michael “Mikey” Benedict in October 2021.

Benedict, a 40-year-old father of six, was found unconscious after being beaten on Union Street between South Wiley Street and Clink Boulevard. Benedict never regained consciousness after the attack and was declared brain dead more than a week before his death on November 4, 2021. He suffered multiple skull fractures and both of his jaws were broken, as was his left ankle.

Jacqueline and Timothy Montgomery, along with their neighbor, Cameron Davis, 32, were indicted on murder charges by a Crawford County grand jury in November 2021. Davis testified against the Montgomerys at their trials as part of a plea deal with prosecutors. He was sentenced to 20 to 25 years in prison, but could be eligible for early release after serving at least 10 years.

In his appeal, Crall said Montgomery claimed her rights were violated because she was limited in her discussion of the length of Davis’ prison sentence before he testified against her.

The appeals court found that the trial court had not abused its discretion in doing so and that there was sufficient evidence to justify upholding the conviction.

Timothy Montgomery’s conviction was upheld by the Third District Court of Appeals earlier this year.

In the third case before the Third District Court of Appeal, Juan A. Rosas, 29, of Bucyrus, appealed his four- to six-year prison sentence for a second-degree burglary conviction. He alleged that he did not have effective assistance of counsel because his attorney failed to file a motion to suppress evidence related to a photo lineup.

Crall said that since the trial court did not allow testimony regarding the lineup, the appeals court found no prejudice in not filing the motion in question.

Rosas also argued that the trial court should have declared a mistrial, but because the issue at issue was never presented to the jury, Crall said Rosas failed to prove any prejudice. As a result, his appeal was dismissed and his conviction was affirmed.

Crall said that in all three cases, his office defended the decisions of Judge Sean Leuthold, who presided over the three trials.

“Assistant Prosecutor Dan Stanley handled all three appeals and defended them well. He has set a high standard of excellence at the appellate level. Few counties can claim to have successfully defended three verdicts at this level and achieved favorable results on the same day,” Crall said. “Justice was served throughout the investigation, trial and appeal of all three cases. Crawford County is a better place because of the work of law enforcement, the Prosecutor’s Office and the court.”