A man convicted of aggravated vehicular homicide and involuntary manslaughter in the drowning death of his friend has been released from prison.
Scott Speer, 43, Fairlawn, posted a $250,000 bond and awaits a new trial in Ottawa County Common Pleas Court, or the outcome if County prosecutor Mark Mulligan appeals the decision that overturned his conviction.
The Sixth District Court of Appeals threw out the conviction last week, ruling that one of the juror's in the trial is deaf and could not hear a 911 tape used to convict Speer.
During jury selection, Speer's attorney asked visiting Judge Richard Markus to dismiss the deaf juror because of her impairment. The judge denied the request.
Mulligan defended the judge's decision to keep the juror in spite of her disability, saying the woman was attentive throughout the trial and was provided with a transcript of the tape.
Assistant prosecutor Christy Cole told Markus a decision whether to appeal the ruling that tossed Speer's conviction to the Ohio Supreme Court has not been made.
The prosecutor's office could also proceed with a new trial or a plea agreement.
The judge renewed Speer's $250,000 bond, releasing him under strict conditions. Speer had been sentenced to four years in prison.
Markus said Speer has never failed to appear for court proceedings and if the case goes to the Supreme Court it could be more than a year before a decision is reached.
He said he would therefore allow Speer to return to his home and job in Fairlawn, outside of Akron.
Under the conditions of his bond, Speer is not allowed to possess or use alcohol or non-prescription drugs; he must surrender his passport; and he may not have any contact with the family of the victim, James Barnett, 39.
Speer also must wear an electronic monitoring bracelet and cannot go outside Summit and Cuyahoga counties without permission from the court.
Speer and his wife, who was in the courtroom, shared warm smiles after the judge made his decision.
Speer was charged after his friend, James Barnett, 39, fell from Speer's 24-foot power boat and drowned Aug. 6, 2002. The two men were returning from South Bass Island in bad weather.