MORGANTOWN, WEST VIRGINIA — Hampshire County (West Virginia) native Jeremiah Mongold is a free man today after serving 11 years of a 40-year sentence for the death of his stepdaughter.
Mongold, who has continually maintained his innocence, is a client of the West Virginia Innocence Project (WVIP) at the College of Law.
In 2005, the case against Mongold was built on death by Shaken Baby Syndrome. However, medical experts contacted by the WVIP determined that Mongold’s stepdaughter may have died from vasculitis, a rare illness that causes the body to attack its own blood cells.
Circuit Court Judge Charles Parsons noted “the issue is whether trial counsel was ineffective in failing to discover an alternative cause of death.”
Earlier this month, Parsons found that Mongold’s trial counsel was “extremely lax in his investigation” and committed “grievous error” on matters related to the pertinent evidence in the case.
Parsons ruled that “by any objective standard of reasonableness trial counsel performance was substantially deficient” and “that there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel’s errors, the result of the proceedings would have been different.”
Mongold’s Innocence Project attorneys are law professor Valena Beety, adjunct faculty member Melissa Giggenbach, and 2016 graduates Jenny Thoma and Lia Deane.
“We are glad to see the system is finally working for Jeremiah and for justice,” said Giggenbach.
The court has set
a status hearing for May 17 to determine if Hampshire Country prosecutor Dan
James will retry Mongold.