Kirkersville murders: Judge who granted killer’s early release admits ‘mistakes’

A judge who signed an early release for Thomas Hartless, who shot and killed ex-girlfriend Marlina Medrano on her job at a Kirkersville nursing home six weeks later, is admitting mistakes were made and he's promising a review of court case won't be a whitewash.

Licking County Municipal Judge Michael Higgins told our news partner (WBNS-TV) on Tuesday that "mistakes were made over here" and the review is needed because "it's important for the families and the public to understand what happened."

Hartless on Friday, May 12, shot himself to death after shooting and killing Medrano, a registered nurse at Pine Kirk Care Center, nurse's aide/co-worker Cindy Krantz and Kirkersville Police Chief Steven Eric DiSario.

RELATED: Coroner's report on Kirkersville shootings

According to and the Newark Advocate, Hartless was sentenced on March 23 to 90 days in jail on misdemeanor domestic violence charges involving three attacks on Medrano -- in December, January and March. He admitted in court that beat up the woman, even that he tried to run over her with his car as she tried to run from him.

Medrano, in a handwritten letter to Judge Higgins stamped March 23, asked leniency for Hartless, and the Advocate report. Her letter, in part, read:

"I have always intended to work with and help Tom with his anger issues...I never intended Tom to be jailed for his actions, rather, it was a cry for help.

"I am not trying to validate why he acted the way he did," she wrote. "Tom has a severe mental disorder. 

With intense therapy, medication compliance and lifestyle changes, I am most confident we can and will overcome our struggles.

"Please allow me to elaborate my stance in its simplicity. Tom would never abandon me if I were to fail to an incapacitating condition. He would provide my needs. This is why I continue to love and support him."

Higgins ordered the early release 20 days later. reported Tuesday that Medrano went to police May 5 to report that Hartless had beaten her twice more and that she feared for her life. That case was under review May 12, for the filing of formal charges, when Hartless killed her and the others.

The review of the early release has been ordered to identify the reason why the order was granted.

Higgins said the results of that review will be made public.

VIDEO: Update on Kirkersville shootings

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