"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

Monday, March 30, 2015

Report: 3 sentenced to death in Ohio in 2014

An annual report on capital punishment in Ohio says three people were condemned to die last year, bringing the total number under Ohio's 1981 law to 323 death sentences.

The report by Attorney General Mike DeWine says 53 inmates have been executed, 19 have had their sentences reduced to prison time, and 26 have died before execution from suicide or natural causes.

The report released Monday says Ohio has 146 active death penalty cases, including James Conway of Columbus, who received two death sentences for different slayings.

Death sentences are increasingly rare in Ohio and nationwide as prosecutors file fewer death penalty cases and juries choose the option of life without parole.

No executions are scheduled this year.

Source: Associated Press, March 30, 2015

Backup of men awaiting execution is building

Midway through Ohio's 2-year death penalty moratorium, a backup of men awaiting execution is building.

There are 20 inmates either scheduled for execution or for whom prosecutors are seeking execution dates from the Ohio Supreme Court, according to the Capital Crimes Annual Report released today by Attorney General Mike DeWine.

State law requires the attorney general to submit a summary of Ohio's capital punishment activity annually by April 1.

Capital punishment ground to a halt following the troubled execution of Dennis McGuire on Jan. 16, 2014. State officials scrambled to come up with a new drug supply to replace the 2 used for the 1st time to kill McGuire.

Instead, they were forced to change state law. Prison officials can now sign secret contracts with "compounding pharmacies" to provide execution drugs. Lawsuits remain pending in which death row inmates are contesting the lethal-injection process.

The changes prompted Gov. John Kasich to push back the entire execution schedule until next year. The 1st man slated to die using the new protocol is Ronald Phillips, of Summit County on Jan. 21, 2016. There are 10 more executions scheduled thorough the end of next year, including 3 killers from Franklin County: Alva Campbell (March 23, 2016), Warren Henness (June 22, 2016) and Kareem Jackson (Sept. 21, 2016), DeWine's report said.

There are 9 other inmates for whom prosecutors have requests pending with the Ohio Supreme Court to set execution dates. None are from central Ohio.

DeWine's report said Ohio has issued 323 death sentences since 1981 and executed 53 people who killed 85 victims, including 19 children. The average age of those executed was 46; they spent an average 16.6 years on death row.

There were 19 death sentences commuted to life without parole by 4 governors. Republican Gov. John Kasich commuted 5 as did Democrat Ted Strickland. Bob Taft, a Republican, commuted 1 sentence, and Democrat Richard F. Celeste commuted 8.

The report said 26 inmates died while awaiting execution, including Billy Slagle, who hung himself in his cell shortly before his execution in 2013. There were 69 cases removed from death row because of court action.

Meanwhile, Ohioans to Stop Executions issued its annual report today which it said reflects a declining use of capital punishment.

"What we see is the institution of the death penalty crumbling before our eyes," said Kevin Werner, executive director.

Source: Columbus Dispatch, March 30, 2015

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