Decades later, man admits poisoning wife

Decades later, man admits poisoning wife
After pleading guilty, he was handed his probation papers, gathered his belongings, and walked away free. (Source: WOIO)
After pleading guilty, he was handed his probation papers, gathered his belongings, and walked away free. (Source: WOIO)

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - It was a high-profile case, after a Parma husband claimed his wife died of a suicide.

His story was that she died in 1993 after taking cyanide. Police didn't buy it, and he was convicted.

In an odd twist, now he is free. Due to changes in Ohio law, all he had to do was plead guilty to be released.

After 23 years of denials, Robert Girts finally admitted he poisoned his wife.

"How do you plead to the charge of involuntary manslaughter?" asked Judge Michael Jackson.

"Guilty, your honor,"  answered Girts.

They were words he had always refused to say.

In 1993, prosecutors successfully proved he poisoned his wife, Diane, by putting cyanide he got from a friend into a salt shaker. Prosecutors made a compelling case and won a conviction.

But the ruling was overturned on appeal, as was a second conviction. He was back in court for a third trial, but since sentencing laws have become less harsh, he could get out if he pleaded guilty, which he did.

"I put the cyanide in a salt shaker. I left for Chicago, knowing that she would use it. I am standing in your court pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter," Girts told the judge.

Finally, it was closure for Diane Girts' family, but the only member left was her brother's sister, Bettyanne Jones.

"Every decision that was reversed and every appeal was about violation of his rights -- his rights. No one ever said anything about Diane. The court system seemed to forget about one thing, and that was Diane. She was mentioned once today," said Jones.

With a simple signature, Girts was put on probation, collected his belongings and walked away. His only responsibility now will be to report for probation for five years.

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