Pennsylvania court vacates order for death row inmate’s COVID-19 testing
March 25 (UPI) — A Pennsylvania court on Wednesday vacated its earlier order to release a death row inmate to be tested for the coronavirus.
The Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas said Walter Ogrod, 55, must remain on death row after the state’s Department of Corrections refused to transport him to a local hospital for testing and treatment.
The court said that after considering earlier cases, it determined it lacked jurisdiction in Ogrod’s case.
Ogrod has had symptoms consistent with COVID-19, including cough, difficulty breathing and a 106-degree fever. His lawyers asked the courts to allow him to be transported off death row for medical treatment, a request the court of common pleas agreed with Saturday.
In February, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office filed briefs in court saying Ogrod is “likely innocent” of assaulting and killing a 4-year-old girl in 1988. They said he was convicted on flawed evidence, including a coerced confession and testimony from discredited jailhouse informants.
The filings called Ogrod’s conviction a “gross miscarriage of justice” and requested his 1996 conviction be vacated and he be released from prison. Ogrod has spent 23 years on death row for the conviction.
Earlier this week, the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas rejected defense lawyers’ request for an expedited hearing on his case in light of the prosecutors’ filings and Ogrod’s illness.
Ogrod’s attorneys said they’re continuing to seek an expedited ruling on his innocence petition.