Ohio inmate could be free soon on appeal

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A central Ohio man convicted in the 1994 slayings of his parents — and who was awarded a new trial because his attorney and wife were having an affair — could get out of prison next year after reaching a deal with prosecutors.

Robert Caulley, 49, was back in court in Columbus on Wednesday and entered Alford pleas to two counts of voluntary manslaughter, The Columbus Dispatch (http://bit.ly/1fC34cC ) reported. The pleas mean he doesn't admit guilt but acknowledges there is evidence to convict him.

Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Charles A. Schneider sentenced him to 10 to 25 years in prison, but he'll be able to apply for probation in six months. Schneider said he will grant the probation if Caulley continues to behave in prison.

Caulley was sentenced in 1997 to serve 25 years to life in prison on convictions of murder and voluntary manslaughter in the deaths of Lois and Charles Caulley in their home in Jackson Township in central Ohio.

The couple, both in their 60s, were bludgeoned to death and repeatedly stabbed with five kitchen knives. The deaths initially had been thought to be part of a failed burglary attempt because the Caulleys' house and business files had been ransacked.

A judge ruled in January 2012 that Caulley was entitled to a new trial because his defense attorney created a conflict of interest by having an affair with Caulley's wife before, during and after the trial. The decision was upheld when the Franklin County Court of Appeals and the Ohio Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

Caulley continues to maintain his innocence. He has served more than 17 years since his arrest, which is "approximately the amount of time someone would serve for such a crime under the old code," prosecutor Ron O'Brien said after the hearing.