Dennis Watkins to testify against release of 2 murderers

WARREN — Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins will appear in Columbus today before the Ohio Adult Parole Board, which will decide whether to release two Trumbull County convicted murderers who were involved in the brutal 1988 death of a Weathersfield man.

Jeff McClure and Mark Badilo, both 48, are up for parole from serving 15-years-to-life sentences for murder, arson, abuse of a corpse and obstruction of justice in the 1988 death of Badilo’s brother, Timothy J. Badilo of Weathersfield. JoEllen Smith, spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, confirmed the full board hearing for both men will begin at 2:30 this afternoon at the department’s operation support center at 770 W. Board St., Columbus.

Watkins, who spoke four years ago at a similar hearing that resulted in keeping the two incarcerated, will talk about the underlying danger for witnesses and others connected to the case if the two are freed. The prosecutor said he wants the board to consider the use of a polygraph examination on the two inmates with three questions in mind.

“Has McClure and Badilo been truthful with the parole board when describing the murder and reasons behind all of the crimes? Do they plan any revenge against the informant who turned them in and did Mark Badilo profit financially from the murder of his brother?” Watkins wrote in a letter dated Nov. 3 to the board.

The charred body of Tim Badilo, 24, of Deforest Road SE, was found by authorities locked in the trunk of his 1987 Pontiac that had been set on fire in a Hubbard Township field.

The cause of death was undetermined for about three years until a witness told authorities about a plot by Mark Badilo to take over the cleaning business the two brothers operated. The witness wore a wire several times in May 1991 as the story unfolded about the murder of Tim Badilo: he was brought to a home and beaten with a pool cue, strangled and stuffed into his own car, remaining there several days before it was set on fire.

The death was a suspected suicide until the man came forward after reading a story in the Tribune Chronicle about cold cases.

The man has related to authorities that he fears retaliation from both McClure, who is in Chillicothe Correctional Institution, and Badilo, who has a cell in Richland Correctional Institution in Mansfield.

Both men also were turned down for parole in 2011.

The latest bid for freedom began when both inmates faced a three-member parole panel in March 2017. The panel then decided to forward their cases to the full board for a hearing. Both Badilo and McClure have been in the prison system since August 1991, records show.

gvogrin@tribtoday.com

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