Thursday, July 19, 2001

Death sentence upheld

Lucasville inmate put blame on state

By John McCarthy
The Associated Press

        COLUMBUS — Any failure by the state to negotiate in good faith with inmates during the 1993 prison riot is no reason to overturn the death penalty of a prisoner convicted of ordering the death of a guard, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.

        The court unanimously upheld the conviction and death sentence of Carlos Sanders, who was identified as one of the leaders of the 10-day riot at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville. Nine inmates and guard Robert Vallandingham were slain during the uprising.

        Mr. Sanders, 38, who has changed his name to Siddique Abdullah Hasan, claimed the state bore some responsibility for Mr. Vallandingham's death because officials would not negotiate in good faith.

        Mr. Hasan had blamed the riot in part on the prison administration's intent to vaccinate prisoners against tuberculosis, which drew the objections of some Muslim inmates, including Mr. Hasan.

        Chief Justice Thomas Moyer, writing for the court, said evidence Mr. Hasan's lawyers presented to show that prison administrators may have contributed to the tensions that led to the riot was “utterly irrelevant” to whether Mr. Hasan was guilty.

        “Let us be clear: The authorities in lawful charge of a prison have no duty to "negotiate in good faith' with inmates who have seized the prison and taken hostages, and the "failure' of those authorities to negotiate is not an available defense to inmates charged with the murder of a hostage,” the justice wrote.

        The court overruled 33 other objections raised by Mr. Hasan's lawyers, including whether his involvement in Mr. Vallandingham's death amounted to murder. Mr. Vallandingham was strangled on April 15, 1993, by two inmates under orders from Mr. Hasan, the court said.

        “The existence of a dangerous situation, combined with the fact that Sanders was obeyed when he ordered that certain people not be harmed, showed how far his influence with the rioting prisoners extended,” Justice Moyer wrote.

        The Ohio Public Defender's Office said it likely will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

        The trial judge did not properly instruct jurors on the issue of complicity in a crime, said Kelly Culshaw, an assistant public defender.


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