June 6, 2017 / 10:58 PM / 2 years ago

Ohio man charged with murder in partner's AIDS-related death

(Reuters) - An Ohio man has been charged with murder in the AIDS-related death of a woman he was accused of infecting with HIV during a five-year sexual relationship in which he failed to tell her that he had the virus.

Ronald Murdock, 51, of Toledo, appeared on Tuesday in a Lucas County criminal court where a judge set his bail at $1.5 million, prosecutor Clinton Wasserman said.

Murdock has not entered a plea. Wasserman said his arraignment was postponed to June 13 to allow time to obtain an attorney.

Murdock was indicted last week on charges of murder and felonious assault, both counts stemming from his sexual relationship with the woman, according to local media.

The indictment marks the latest in a series of criminal cases brought against HIV-positive individuals prosecuted in the United States for sexual behavior and other conduct that would expose another person to HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Ohio, like several other U.S. states, has a law requiring people with HIV to disclose that fact to their sexual partners.

The Center for HIV Law & Policy in New York has tallied nearly 280 arrests and prosecutions related to concerns about HIV exposure in the United States between 2008 and 2016, but has said that list is not exhaustive.

The center and other advocates for people with HIV oppose laws such as the one used in Ohio to prosecute Murdock, saying they stigmatize people with the disease.

But Josh Klempner, the son of the woman who died, voiced support for the prosecution in an interview with a Toledo television station WTVG.

“It would be different if he had let people know that he had it (HIV) before he got in that relationship, but he didn’t,” Klempner told the station. “So that right there tells me and everybody else that he has no care.”

Klempner’s mother, Kimberly Klempner, died in February at age 51, according to WTVG. The station aired images of her death certificate listing AIDS as the cause.

Murdock was married to another woman during his affair with Klempner, the television station reported, citing a police report.

A police spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Josh Klempner told the station his mother discovered Murdock had HIV when she looked at his medication bottles.

Murdock, who could not be reached for comment, faces a sentence of up to life in prison if convicted of murder.

Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by David Gregorio

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