Convicted murderer claims attorney failed him

A Huron County man convicted of killing his father claims a string of people failed him over the years, starting with his own parents and most recently, his attorney.
Annie Zelm
May 6, 2011


A Huron County man convicted of killing his father claims a string of people failed him over the years, starting with his own parents and most recently, his attorney.

The appeals court has appointed Steven Rodvold a new attorney as he fights his conviction from prison.

A Huron County judge sentenced Rodvold, 27, to a mandatory sentence of 15 years to life last May after a jury found him guilty of murder. He was found not guilty of aggravated murder, a charge indicating prior calculation.

His attorney, Timothy Dempsey of Sandusky, asked to be withdrawn from the case after Rodvold filed a complaint against him in Erie County Common Pleas Court. Rodvold alleges Dempsey ineffectively represented him and then failed to keep him informed about his case so he could meet deadlines for an appeal.

It appears his appeal will move forward, however.

The Ohio Sixth District Court of Appeals granted Dempsey's request last month and appointed Rodvold a new attorney, Terice Warncke of Delta, Ohio.

Warncke said she has not yet met with Rodvold and would not comment on the appeal at this time. She's required to file documents outlining the case for his appeal by June 3, although she said she'll likely file for an extension.

In an eight-page complaint against his former attorney, Rodvold contends Dempsey failed him in several ways, including:

• Failing to provide the testimony of a firearms expert, which Rodvold said was necessary to show he shot his father in self-defense.

• Failing to seek a forensic pathologist to provide a defense against the findings of the state's coroner.

• Excluding several witnesses who could have testified about Rodvold's history of physical and mental abuse at the hands of both his parents and step-parents and failing to provide documentation that substantiated it.

Rodvold claims he suffered "battered child syndrome" from abuse that started at age 6, when his parents locked him in a dark closet for three days without food or water.

According to the complaint, Dempsey made no attempt to locate records from a children services investigation into the abuse in Palestine, Texas, where school employees first reported the problems.

Rodvold names nearly a dozen people who he says had knowledge of his father's "pattern of abuse" — including neighbors, friends and step-siblings — and points out they were never called as witnesses.

* Failing to show the jury that Rodvold's father frequently threatened him by sneaking up behind him with a rifle or firing shots near him, claiming to be shooting at raccoons in their barn.

* Failing to object to factors he claims violated his right to a fair trial, including "confusing jury instruction" and allowing gruesome photos of his slain father in court.

Dempsey did not return a call seeking comment this week, but filed a response to the complaint, arguing that he did fulfill his duties as Rodvold's attorney. He stated Rodvold's complaints are baseless because he does not back them up with any expert opinion to support them. Finally, he states Rodvold is not entitled to collect damages from him because he is "barred due to the doctrine of unclean hands," a rule that says someone bringing forth a claim must be innocent of wrongdoing related to that claim.





indolent indiff...


Hang in there Tim.  What a bunch of idiocy. 


waste of taxpayer dollars!

make him a deal.  we give/pay for a new attorney and if you are still found to be guilty you are immediately executed thus saving the taxpayer for all of the years it will cost to keep you in jail.


 It's always someone else's fault. 

Why didn't you just move away if things were so bad? 

Tool Box

Death penalty please!     It's everybody's fault but yours, right?    BBBBBBBBBBBBBBulllllllllllllll!


Even with a new trial, he will still need to be locked up. If his abuse was that bad, "Slingblade" won't be able to be around the public.  

Julie R.

I don't know if this guy was really abused or not but I did read a true story once about a sister and brother that were. The abuse they suffered at the hands of both their mother and father for years was horrendous. When they became teen-agers they devised a plot to murder them. The prosecutors tried to say that they could have reported the abuse and left yet it was proven that they DID try to report it and nobody would ever do anything.  

The Answer Person

Some of you people need to experience long-term abuse to attempt to understand what goes on and what it does to your LIFE.  You all think it is so black and white.  The dad was probably a really big jerk with lots of issues.

Been there.


 The Answer Person,

The young man is 27 years old. At 18 years old he is considered an adult and could leave of his on free will.  So this man stayed with "a big jerk with lots of issues" for 9 years before murdering that person. 

Yep, that's justification for murder.


I know Mr. Dempsey to be a highly qualified, highly dedicated attorney.  One thing needs to be clear, Mr. Dempsey did NOT represent this guy at his trial.  The issues he raises, as reported by the Register, are issues that he has with his trial counsel, not Mr. Dempsey.

The Answer Person

to "outsider".  Your name says it all. 

You do NOT have a CLUE as to what control and abuse are and what they can do to a person.  You are looking at it from YOUR own point of view as if anyone has free will and ability to just simply pick up and leave.  You do not have a clue.  read a book.

Julie R.

I can't speak for all attorneys, Buff, but I sure can speak for the ones I know.  If I give you their names could you tell me if you think they are highly qualified, highly dedicated attorneys?

Julie R.

Hey Buff, if Mr. Dempsey is really a highly qualified, highly dedicated attorney then he must not fit in too well with your corrupt Erie County legal system!  


We live in a corrupt society. The legal system is one of the most corrupt groups there are. I know for a fact if an attorney doesn't kiss the judges behinds they will have great difficulty ever winning another case. It is one of the largest good ole boy groups in this country. I've had honest attorneys admit these things. And as they all do, off the record.

If you have never been abused you have no idea how hard it can be to escape its chains. I've been there and done that. I find Psyciatrists and Psycologists also have their own agendas. They can't find the right cure for you until your insurance is ready to dry up. I found the only real help is in Jesus Christ. For you unbelievers I am sure you will mock this. For you who suffer with any of these things get some help from the so called professionals but also turned to the healing powers of Jesus.


stillfree:  you said you know certain things "for a fact".  I would like to you to share those facts.  I am not insensitive to the lifelong effects that being abused as a child can cause, but it seems to me that you're blaming the legal and medical communities.  This guy was convicted by a jury of his peers and received his punishment.

This article is about a guy, who no doubt has issues, trying to denigrate the name of a good and honorable attorney who was offering his services when not many others would do so.  I can give you this fact:  there are very few attorneys who are willing to accept court appointments to handle appeals on behalf of convicted felons.  They are admirable in every way for helping to preserve the rule of law by ensuring that even the lowest common denominator receives equal treatment under our Constitution.  Tim Dempsey is one of those few. 

As for the rest of the legal community, they are by and large, equally as honorable and conscientious.  There are a few bad apples, but that is true in any industry or profession. 

swiss family

if I remember the facts of this  case correctly.. after high school I think this guy joined the military for some time, so he did get the chance to escape the "torture and abuse" he suffered as a I have to ask myself // why in the world would he come home to live in the same abusive situation that he finally escaped from????I am sorry, but I think that everyone can look back and see people, or times, or situations that were not considered to be normal , and every one of those experiences  will either strengthen you or destroy you.. which ever one you decide to allow it.....I would like to know  where it is that you get these "free crime" passes???I have had some bad things happen in my life, as I would bet that many other people have as well... I wasn't aware that I could cash it in for a crime, like murder, or rape, or theft etc.. where is the list  so I can see what I am entitled to do with the "abuse" I suffered....I believe that you get what you get, and it is your job and responsibility to learn to deal with it.. also remember that there are at least 2 sides to every story...if you choose to be a victim then that is what you will always be...but you do NOT get any free pass because of it.. if you choose to be a survivor, then you will have beaten the odds and you will automatically be responsible for your own actions... which is as it should be...sorry  Mr Rodvold.. you shot your Dad and killed him , admitted to it.. and now you suffer the consequences of your actions....

Julie R.

Could be the guy couldn't get the abuse out of his head. Maybe it kept festering and festering until he finally snapped. Who knows?

@ Buff:  By and large the legal profession is honorable?  Oh my! You most certainly can not be referring to Eeerie County!  


Show me "a good and honorable attorney" and then tell me the ones in prison are good and honorable.

Julie R.

Gee Buff, I'll bet the jokes at your "honorable"  Erie County courthouse just thought they were soooooo intelligent with all those dirty illegal scams they pulled off over an 8-year period.  A forged Will filed two years after a person's death.........sneaky bogus lawsuits filed and dismissed in the jurisdiction of Cuyahoga County so a double-dipper rent-a-judge mouthpiece could say 8 years later that the bogus lawsuits "resolved" the issues in an Erie County probate estate.........forcing property to be sold at an invalid sheriff sale so the fraud on it wouldn't have to be acknowledged and put back into the correct owner's probate estate..................couldn't you just picture those clowns at your "honorable" Erie County courthouse pulling off all those illegal scams on the Cedar Fair CEO's family someday?  


Once again our favorite tinfoil girl has appeared with her fairy tales of made up dealings with the legal system.  The mothership must have dropped her back off with new instructions she got from her electric outlet. Yet once again at the end of the day she remains disinherited.  We misssed you, not!!!!!


Hi Sam.  I tried what's advised by the old old adage, "just ignore her and she will stop".  No such luck.

Julie R.

Who are you trying to kid, 'ole Buff? You started "ignoring" me because I started giving out matter of public record numbers ---- like the numbers of fraud documents filed in the Erie County Recorder's office ---- the ones that Sessler won't make viewable online.  


See what I mean, Sam?



You about to enter the twilight zone, aka the world of tinfoil and her fantasy world of legal intrigue, stay tone to your closest electric outlet.  Comm buff she is somewhat entertaining in a very elementary kind of way.

Julie R.

Once again, attorney Buff............I'll bet the jokes at your " honorable" Erie County courthouse just thought they were soooooo intelligent with all those dirty illegal scams they pulled off over an 8-year period.  A forged Will filed 2 years after a person's death.............bogus lawsuits filed and dismissed in the jurisdiction of Cuyahoga County so a double-dipper rent-a-judge mouthpiece could say 8 years later that the bogus lawsuits "resolved" the issues in an Erie County Probate estate..........forcing property to be sold at an invalid sheriff sale at a substantial discount so the fraud on it wouldn't have to be acknowledged and put back into the correct owner's probate estate..........couldn't you just picture those clowns on the 2nd Floor of your "honorable" Erie County courthouse pulling all that illegal crap off on your non-average citizens like the Cedar Fair CEO's family someday?

Julie R.

Gee Sam, I don't know WHY the Erie County Auditor's office has it on their website that a Sheriff Sale of property --- a home in Huron --- to an Erie County realtor was INVALID. Maybe they're wearing tin-foil hats or something?


Gee Julie R after all your years of rants and hijacking articles you still remain DISINHERITED, your tinfoil hat must not be receiving the signals from the mothership..................

Julie R.

Once again, Sam  --- I don't know WHY the Erie County Auditor's office has it online (under Data For Parcel Number 42-01072.000)  that the Sheriff Sale of a home in Huron to Maximal Properties LLC (an Erie County realtor) was INVALID ---- but then on the other hand if the Erie County Recorder Barb Sessler would make those other fraud documents that are on file in the Recorder's office viewable online it might be a little more understandable!        

Julie R.

Sammy and attorney Buff always disappear when I mention those fraud documents on file in the Erie County Recorder's office!  

Julie R.

Hey Sammy, considering how a double-dipper brought in 8 years after a person's death to act as the mouthpiece for the Erie County Probate Court said there was no wrongdoing in transferring an elderly, incompetent person's property under a fraud quitclaims deed that falsely stated a forged POA concealed in Lorain County was on file in Erie County, why don't you go fraudulently transfer the double-dipper's property?

After all, these double-dippers can't come into Erie County and make up these new fraud laws without saying the new fraud laws don't apply to them and their County, too!


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Rodvold claims he suffered "battered child syndrome" from abuse that started at age 6, when his parents locked him in a dark closet for three days without food or water.

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I really believe that we should run a criminal check for every person who looks suspect, and in this way we can prevent our children from having any kind of relationship with a criminal, murderer, thief and anything like this. I'm sure we all want to protect them at all costs. Personally I live for them.