Wearing an orange jumpsuit, belly chains and leg shackles, three-time killer Casey Pigge pleaded guilty in Pickaway County Common Pleas Court to strangling fellow inmate David Johnson to death on a prison bus.
Pigge, 29, asked no questions in the hearing that lasted less than 15 minutes. Standing at attention behind him were three armed SWAT officers from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction who transported Pigge directly to court from the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville.
“It is a pretty awful crime. Whether the gentleman who was killed was incarcerated or not, he was still a human being and we still have a victim in this particular case. I’m pleased that justice has been served for him,” said Pickaway County Prosecutor Judy Wolford.
Pickaway County Judge P. Randall Knece immediately sentenced Pigge to 25 years to life in prison. Pigge is already serving life in prison without parole for another inmate murder.
Pigge’s defense attorney, Steve Larson said he didn’t ask Pigge about his horrible childhood, the other murders or why he killed Johnson.
“I stayed away from the ‘why?’ of it all because there is never going to be a good why,” Larson said.
Larson chatted with Pigge before the hearing began about what kind of books he likes to read, knowing he’ll be in a single prison cell for years to come.
“He thinks he’ll be in J-block (in Lucasville) for the next six to 10 years,” Larson said. “He wants to work his security level down — that’s his goal in life. But he understands he is going to be in a single cell the rest of his life — at least they told him that. I don’t know the prison system. Obviously, they have to protect the other prisoners.”
On Feb. 1, Pigge sat at the very back of a DRC prison transport bus, out of sight of three guards who rode up front. Inmates on the bus told investigators that Pigge slipped out of his belly chain and used it to strangle Johnson, a 61-year-old sex offender.
Afterward, he bragged to other prisoners, saying “This is the first time anyone has ever killed a (expletive) on a bus with his chains on” and “I guess you never seen that on a bus before.”
The guards — Ted Hammonds, Grover Riggs and William Saltsman — told investigators that they didn’t realize Johnson was dead until after the bus made a scheduled stop a state prison in Chillicothe.
When unloading the bus, guards thought Johnson had fallen asleep. Troopers didn’t determine that foul play was involved until two hours after the bus was stopped. By then, Pigge was back on another bus headed to Lucasville. Troopers had to stop that bus to get Pigge and confiscate his clothes and chains as evidence.
Wolford declined to comment on how DRC transported Pigge that day.
Pigge was on the bus after appearing in Warren County Common Pleas Court where he pleaded guilty to the February 2016 beating death of his cellmate, Luther Wade, of Springfield. He told authorities that he tricked Wade into wearing a blindfold as part of a card game and then used a wall cinder block to beat Wade to death.
In November 2009, Pigge pleaded guilty to aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, aggravated arson and other charges and received a sentence of 30 years to life in prison. In that case, he killed his ex-girlfriend’s mother and set her home on fire.
A clinical psychologist determined in that case that Pigge is mentally impaired, making him ineligible for capital punishment, court records show.
Our Columbus Bureau reporter Laura Bischoff has been covering this bizarre case for months. Like her page on Facebook for the latest news.