Saturday, April 20, 2002

Board won't back clemency plea

By Marie McCain,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COLUMBUS — The Ohio Parole Board on Friday recommended that Gov. Bob Taft deny clemency to convicted spree-killer Alton Coleman, who is scheduled to die by lethal injection April 26.

        Mr. Coleman, 46, was sentenced to die for the 1984 beating death of Marlene Walters, 44, in her Norwood home.

        He has been convicted of four 1984 murders and received additional death sentences in Indiana and Illinois.

        Attorneys for the Illinois native had argued before the parole board that Mr. Coleman has an organic brain dysfunction that inhibited his ability to make “non-impulsive, considered choices.”

        They also contended that his mother used drugs and alcohol when she was pregnant with him that caused a “genetic predisposition for disordered behavior.”

        In a unanimous 15-page report to Gov. Taft, the board stated that despite the defense contentions, Mr. Coleman “involved himself in mass murders and multiple rapes.

        “Most of Coleman's crimes involved him befriending his victims before he raped or killed them. He caused almost indescribable and irreparable damage to his victims,” the board wrote.

        The governor will receive the report Monday.

        Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen said his office was “obviously gratified.”

        Also Friday, the Ohio Supreme Court rejected a defense request to review Mr. Coleman's Hamilton County conviction. The defense contended the prosecution, during Mr. Coleman's 1987 trial, inappropriately excluded black potential jurors from the final jury.

        Mr. Coleman is black.

        He can appeal the decision in federal court. Mr. Coleman's lawyer, Dale Baich, said Friday that he did not know how he would proceed.

        Defense attorneys also sued the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction Friday over its plan to have Mr. Coleman's execution shown on a closed circuit television in another room at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, where he will be executed.
        The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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