Thursday, May 8, 2003

Supreme Court delays Campbell's execution

By Sharon Turco
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[IMAGE] Jerome Campbell listens to one of his attorneys during a hearing in the Hamilton County courtroom of Judge Charles J. Kubicki.
(Gary Landers photo)
The Ohio Supreme Court on Wednesday delayed Jerome Campbell's execution to give his attorneys more time to argue that he deserves a new trial.

The court postponed the execution from May 14 to June 27.

Campbell, 41, was convicted in 1989 on charges of aggravated murder and aggravated burglary for killing 78-year-old Henry Turner in his West End apartment Christmas Eve morning 1988.

The state public defender's office filed a motion in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court last week asking for a new trial. After hearing arguments Wednesday, Judge Charles J. Kubicki said he would make a determination by Friday.

For the first time in 14 years Campbell left the walls of Ohio's prison system to attend the hearing. Family and friends of Campbell packed the small fourth-floor courtroom, but were not permitted to speak to him.

The public defenders argued Campbell deserved a new trial because a recently completed DNA test showed blood on tennis shoes belonging to Campbell was his and not the victim's, as the jury may have thought. They also argued that the state treated jailhouse informants lightly in exchange for their testimony against Campbell and that jurors were never told of that.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen said prosecutors never claimed the blood was the victim's and thus it would not have made a difference in the jury's ruling.

He said the informants were not given special treatment.

Allen said Campbell's fingerprints were found near Turner's apartment; at 1 a.m. Dec. 23 a witness saw Campbell leaning up against Turner's apartment building drinking a pint bottle of alcohol; while in jail, Campbell asked his girlfriend to provide a false alibi for him and admitted to her that he committed the crime; and alcohol found in Campbell's apartment matched alcohol from Turner's apartment.

Last week the Ohio Parole Board recommended Gov. Bob Taft grant clemency to Campbell. Taft has not decided.

The parole board concluded Campbell was guilty, but that new evidence might have led jurors to consider a lesser sentence.

Minutes after Campbell left the courtroom, his family learned of the execution delay.

"It gives us more time," his cousin Lisa Davis said.


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