Tuesday, April 03, 2001

Killer gets full hearing on clemency

Case is first since revival of death penalty

By John McCarthy
The Associated Press

        COLUMBUS — Jay D. Scott is getting the first full clemency hearing requested by a condemned inmate since Ohio reinstated the death penalty in 1981, a spokeswoman for the state prisons department said Monday.

        Mr. Scott, 48, is scheduled to be executed April 17 for the 1983 murder of Cleveland delicatessen owner Vinnie Prince, 74, during an attempted robbery.

        The Ohio Parole Board was expected to hear arguments for and against clemency during a meeting today. The board, which can recommend a commutation of Mr. Scott's sentence, a pardon, a reprieve or that the execution proceed, is expected to make its recommendation to Gov. Bob Taft today or Wednesday.

        Board members have interviewed Mr. Scott, and defense attorneys and prosecutors are expected to state their cases at today's hearing, which is closed to the public, said Andrea Dean, spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

        Representatives of Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery and the Ohio Public Defender's Office are expected to attend but not offer any testimony, Ms. Dean said. The public defender will be following the hearing because that office represents other death row inmates, including John Byrd of Cincinnati, whose execution has been scheduled for Sept. 12.

        “The people who will be there are folks who work in our death penalty division. They will be there to gain an understanding of the nuts and bolts,” said Greg Meyers, chief of the division.

        The public defender got a clemency hearing shortly before the 1999 execution of Wilford Berry, who had dropped his appeals.

        Mr. Berry, dubbed “The Volunteer” by prosecutors, did not ask for the hearing and made no plea on his own behalf. His execution was the first in Ohio since 1963.

        Mr. Scott's attorneys prepared a file containing medical reports that lawyers say should convince the board and Mr. Taft that Mr. Scott is mentally ill and should not be executed.

        But prosecutors say Mr. Scott had a fair trial and has exhausted his appeals, so the sentence should be carried out without further delay.


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