County asked to pay $5K a day fee for expert

A local murder suspect wants pathologist used in Casey Anthony trial.

About Werner U. Spitz

Fee schedule

Review of documents: $400 per hour

Deposition at his office: $2,500

Affidavit: $1,500 (includes review)

Written opinion: $1,500 (includes review)

Court testimony (out of state): $5,000 per day, plus expenses

Famous cases

On committees investigating the deaths of ...

President John F. Kennedy

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Expert witness or advisor

Richard Ramirez, the California Night Stalker case

Wrongful death civil suit against O.j. Simpson

Jon Benet Ramsey case


Recommended expense guidelines for indigent cases

Private investigator: $1,500


Medical: $2,000

Handwriting: $750

Polygraph: $750

Ballistics: $1,000

Forensics: $1,000

DNA: $2,500 and up

Psychological exam: $1,500

Witness: $1,500




DAYTON — Dr. Werner Spitz, the forensic pathologist who testified at the Casey Anthony trial this year, could be called in a Montgomery County murder case.

The catch is the $5,000-per day-price tag, which would be picked up by the taxpayers since the defendant, Ralph E. Donaldson, is indigent. County prosecutors are opposing Spitz’s appointment.

“The county, given its budgetary problems, should not be put in a position to pay the fee scheduled requested by said expert,” assistant county prosecutor David Franceschelli wrote in an opposition motion filed Aug. 11.

Common Pleas Judge Greogry F. Singer will have a hearing today to determine whether to honor the motion filed Aug. 5 by attorney Al Wilmes, which includes a fee schedule for Spitz, an internationally known expert who has more than five decades of experience.

Spitz testified in the Warren County’s Ryan Widmer case, the Mary Jo Kopechne case, the Phil Spector murder trial and the wrongful death civil lawsuit against O.J. Simpson. He also testified before the U.S. House of Representatives regarding the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Franceschelli declined comment. Wilmes said he did not know that Spitz had testified in those cases, and that he got Spitz’s name from the Ohio Public Defender’s Office.

“I was just trying to find a pathologist,” Wilmes said. “Cause of death is a major issue.”

According to his motion, Wilmes wants Spitz to review reports concerning the death of Deborah Nooks, Donaldson’s ex-girlfriend, whom he beat into a permanently disabled state in 1997.

Donaldson pleaded guilty in March 1997 to attempted murder and was sentenced to eight years in prison, plus an additional 12 years for violating his parole on aggravated robbery charges.

The two were parolees who met at a halfway house in 1995. After Nooks tried to break up with him, Donaldson attacked her, including stomping her head with his boots.

Nooks, who was left blind, brain damaged and only able to communicate for years by blinking her eyes, died in a nursing home in August 2009. The prosecutor’s office then indicted him on a murder charge last December.

Wilmes’ motion includes the fee schedule. Spitz charges $400 per hour to review medical reports. A written opinion costs $1,500. To testify outside of Michigan, where he is based, Spitz charges $5,000 a day plus expenses.

“The State of Ohio submits that a fee schedule submitted by their proposed expert is not only unreasonable, but is outrageous,” Franceschelli wrote.

In cases of indigent defendants, the court does pay for expert witness fees. Court guidelines recommend paying $1,500 for a private investigator and $2,000 for a medical expert.

In 2009, Montgomery County Common Pleas Court’s general division, which hears nearly all adult felony cases, paid $107,236. 41 for expert witness costs. The total number of bills was 55, or an average of $1,950 per bill.

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