Randy Resh and Bob Gondor both testified in Portage County Common Pleas Court on Thursday that they had nothing to do with the 1988 murder of a Randolph woman in Hiram Township, despite the testimony of the lone man still incarcerated for the crime.
The men, who were convicted in 1990 of murdering Connie Nardi, are suing to obtain a ruling of "actual innocence" from Visiting Judge Marvin Shapiro. That ruling could lead to them receiving monetary compensation for wrongful imprisonment.
Each time Assistant Portage County Prosecutor Tom Buchanan asked Resh about an element of the crime provided in the testimony of Troy J. Busta at trials in 1990 and 2007, Resh denied that they ever took place.
"I never did that," Resh said when asked if he and Gondor joined Busta and Nardi at a washed out bridge in the area of Allyn and Abbott Roads on Aug. 14,1988.
Resh denied being present when, according to prosecutors, Busta asked Nardi to have sex with the three men. When she refused, Busta testified in 1990 and 2007, he and Gondor held Nardi's arms and legs while Resh choked the 32-year-old woman to death.
"Never happened," Resh said. "None of that ever happened."
Resh and Gondor both testified they had been drinking at the Upper Deck Bar in Mantua Township and the Village Tavern in Mantua that night. Friends since elementary school, they had planned to meet up at a Cleveland bar after a Cleveland Indians home baseball game on the afternoon of Sunday, Aug. 14, 1988, but Gondor testified that Resh "never showed up."
Gondor said he eventually met up with Resh at the Upper Deck, had several drinks there, went to the Village Tavern, had several more drinks, then drove back to the Upper Deck, where they chatted with owner Ed Douglas. Busta showed up alone just before Douglas closed for the night, and left on his own.
Gondor and Resh both testified they did not follow him home. Instead, they drove back to Resh's mobile home on Infirmary Road in Shalersville, ordered a pizza from the Streetsboro Domino's at 12:42 a.m. Aug. 15, picked it up around 1 a.m. and took it back to the trailer. They ate the pizza, had several more drinks and went to bed, Gondor testified.
Nardi's body was found in a Geauga County pond the next day. Gondor said he didn't realize that other witnesses were telling police they saw a truck like his at Busta's house the night of the murder or that he needed an alibi until he was interviewed on Thursday, Aug. 18, 1988 at his apartment in Solon by Geauga County sheriff's Lt. David Easthon and Sgt. Tom Dewey.
The 30-minute interview "became very confrontational," Gondor testified, and he told detectives he wasn't involved, didn't know anyone who was involved and that Domino's employees could provide an alibi for the time of the murder before "I basically told (Easthon) to get the hell out."
Gondor said he later told Easthon about the pizza shop alibi, and that his name and Resh's "have been pulled into this for no apparent reason."
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