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Capital Punishment in the United States Explained

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In our Explainer series, Fair Punishment Project lawyers help unpackage some of the most complicated issues in the criminal justice system. We break down the problems behind the headlines - like bail, civil asset forfeiture, or the Brady doctrine - so that everyone can understand them. Wherever possible, we try to utilize the stories of those affected by the criminal justice system to show how these laws and principles should work, and how they often fail. We will update our Explainers monthly to keep them current. Read our updated explainer here.
To beat the clock on the expiration of its lethal injection drug supply, this past April, Arkansas tried to execute 8 men over 1 days. The stories told in frantic legal filings and clemency petitions revealed a deeply disturbing picture. Ledell Lee may have had an intellectual disability that rendered him constitutionally ineligible for the death penalty, but he had a spate of bad lawyers who failed to timely present evidence of this claim -…

Ohio death-row inmate Patrick Leonard commits suicide

Patrick Leonard
Patrick Leonard
An Ohio man condemned to die for the slaying of his former girlfriend has killed himself on death row, the state prisons agency said Monday.

Inmate Patrick Leonard died Sunday night of an apparent suicide on death row in Chillicothe, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction said in an email to The Associated Press.

Leonard was sentenced to death for the 2000 killing of his ex-girlfriend, 23-year-old Dawn Flick, in Hamilton County.

The 47-year-old Leonard was angry at Flick for ending their relationship and refusing to reconcile, according to court records.

Records say Leonard handcuffed Flick, tried to rape her and shot her three times.

Leonard was unusual among death row inmates in that he did not have a previous criminal record.

“Prior to this incident, Leonard was not considered violent and had not been in trouble with police,” the Ohio Supreme Court noted in a 2004 ruling upholding his death sentence. “The fact that Leonard had committed these crimes was described as shocking and extremely out of character.”

Leonard didn’t have a scheduled execution date.

The last death row suicide in Ohio was in 2013, when Billy Slagle hanged himself just days before his scheduled execution. Slagle used a belt in his cell on death row, also at Chillicothe Correctional Institution.

In a note, Slagle called his nearly three decades in prison torture and said he was taking his destiny into his own hands, according to a State Highway Patrol report.

Three years after the execution of convicted killer Dennis McGuire made international news, Ohio is once again delaying carrying out the death penalty as it deals with legal hurdles.

Ohio is appealing the ruling that U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Michael Merz in Dayton issued in December that put an indefinite hold on three scheduled executions. 

In the meantime, Gov. John Kasich, who supports capital punishment, pushed back execution dates for two inmates: Ronald Phillips and Raymond Tibbetts.

Phillips, Tibbetts and other Death Row inmates are challenging a new Ohio law that keeps secret the source of lethal injection drugs. Their attorneys argue that they can’t adequately challenge the use of the drugs without access to the information.

Ohio has 32 executions scheduled between 2017 and 2021.

Ohio has 138 inmates on Death Row.

Source: Associated Press, March 6, 2017

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