Saturday, January 18, 2003

Death penalty change sought


Law students: Ohio's unfair

By Sharon Turco
The Cincinnati Enquirer

They are 22 killers who claimed one victim each in Hamilton County. They were sentenced to death by judges acting on the recommendation of a jury.

Friday, a group of University of Cincinnati law students said those 22 killers - plus 66 others statewide - don't meet death penalty criteria developed in Illinois.

DISPUTED CASES
A group of University of Cincinnati law students said Friday that a little more than half of Ohio's death row inmates whose cases they reviewed, don't meet death penalty criteria developed in Illinois. Included on the list are 22 inmates who committed their crime in Hamilton County.
1. David Steffen, 43, convicted of raping and murdering Karen Range in her Roselawn home in 1982.
2. Allan Earl Holloway, 49, convicted in 1984 of the beating and strangulation of Clara Wilson, 84, in her Over-the-Rhine apartment.
3. Jerome Henderson, 43, convicted in 1999 of killing, robbing and trying to rape a 26-year-old Cincinnati woman in her apartment.
4. Derrick Jamison, 41, convicted in 1984 of killing Gary Marshall during a robbery downtown.
5. Tony Powell, 36, convicted for tossing 7-year-old Trina Dukes out an Over-the-Rhine fourth-floor window when his rape attempt was interrupted in 1986.
6. William Henry Smith, 45, convicted in 1988 of murdering and raping a woman.
7. Martin Rojas, 43, convicted in 1988 of raping and murdering Rebecca Scott in her Cheviot home.
8. George Franklin, 36, convicted of bludgeoning to death a 26-year-old P&G executive in a Corryville condo in 1988.
9. Jerome Campbell, 41, convicted of stabbing Henry Turner to death during a burglary of his York Street apartment in 1988.
10. Clarence Carter, 40, convicted of killing Johnny Allen in 1989.
11. Derrick Cook, 46, convicted of robbing and killing Frank Shorter in 1989.
12. Genesis Hill, 30, convicted of the 1991 beating death of his 6-month-old daughter, Domika Dudley.
13. Jeffrey Hill, 38, convicted of killing his mother in 1991.
14. Tyrone Ballew, 34, convicted in the 1990 aggravated murder of Donald Hill of Avondale, who was dragged at gunpoint to a vacant lot in Walnut Hills, beaten and shot.
15. Cedric Carter, 29, convicted of the 1992 shooting death of a United Dairy Farmers clerk during a robbery.
16. Lee Edward Moore Jr., 28, convicted in 1994 for kidnapping Chicago businessman Melvin Olinger, stuffing him in the trunk of his own car and then shooting him in the head.
17. Bobby Shepphard, 26, convicted in 1995 for robbing and killing Dennis Willhide.
18. Walter Raglin, 25, convicted in 1996 for killing a musician in Over-the-Rhine.
19. Elwood Jones, 50, convicted for the 1994 beating death of a New Jersey grandmother in her room at the Blue Ash Embassy Suites.
20. Angelo Fears, 29, convicted for killing an Over-the-Rhine boy in 1997.
21. Richard Neilds, 52, convicted for killing his live-in girlfriend, Patricia Newsome, in 1997.
22. Rayshawn Johnson, 24, convicted in 1998 for bludgeoning Shanon Marks to death in her East Walnut Hills home.
The students, from UC's Urban Justice Institute, wrote to Gov. Bob Taft asking him to issue a moratorium on executions and convene a high level commission to study the fairness and accuracy of the death penalty in Ohio.

The governor said he can't and won't do it.

"The governor has no intention of issuing a moratorium on the death penalty in Ohio," said Orest Holubec, his press secretary. "First, in Ohio, governors do not have that power. And second, Governor Taft reviews every case very carefully just to be sure justice is done."

In Ohio, the governor must have the recommendation of a parole board before acting on cases.

"Let us be clear," the students wrote in their letter. "We do not take a position on whether Ohio should or should not have a death penalty, but are merely interested in whether the system is fair, accurate, and comports with equal protection constraints."

The students examined the cases of 173 of Ohio's 204 inmates on death row and determined 88 should not be put to death based on criteria developed by an Illinois review panel.

Twenty-two of the 88 are from Hamilton County, said Dan Dodd, a law student who worked on the study. Overall, the study concluded that 63 percent of Ohio's death row inmates merit "substantial review."

Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen said no review is needed because the 22 men were fairly sentenced.

Joe Deters, former Hamilton County prosecutor who ran the office when many of the men were sentenced, agreed.

"I know prosecutors and judges are so careful with these cases," Mr. Deters said. "It is so wrong for a group of students to call for something as extensive as moratorium without specifically stating why they believe they don't belong on death row."

Just saying they don't meet the criteria used in Illinois is not enough, Mr. Deters said. As he heard the names of those men on the list for review, Mr. Deters became outraged. He called one case one of the most "hideous and horrible crimes" he had ever prosecuted.

Illinois Gov. George Ryan announced Jan. 11, two days before he left office, that he had commuted the sentences of all of the state's death row inmates, turning their sentences into life in prison without parole.

Mr. Ryan had previously commissioned a panel to review all death penalty cases, using five eligibility factors to determine who should get the death penalty. They are: killing a police officer or other public safety officer; killing more than one person; killing someone involved in the judicial process such as a judge or juror; torturing someone before the killing; and killing somebody in the penal system.

After the Illinois criteria were announced, the students began last summer to apply the factors to Ohio inmates. They also considered a set of landmark studies of death penalty cases nationwide from Columbia University

The criteria used in the study conflict with the factors Ohio law allows jurors to use when considering whether to recommend death sentences.

Defendants in Ohio can be put to death if they are found guilty of killing a person during a kidnapping, rape, arson, robbery, burglary or escape. They can also be executed if they are found guilty of killing someone under the age of 13, a prison inmate or a law enforcement officer, according to the Ohio Revised Code.

As of Dec. 27, there were 204 inmates on Ohio's death row. Forty-five are from Hamilton County.

E-mail sturco@enquirer.com




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