Saturday, August 2, 2003

Ohioan may face execution in Texas

The Associated Press

COLUMBUS - Gov. Bob Taft has signed extradition papers that could send an Ohio inmate to Texas to be tried for the kidnapping and killing of three young girls two decades ago, his office said.

David Elliott Penton, 45, could face the death penalty in Texas. He is serving a life sentence in the Marion Correctional Institution for the 1988 abduction and slaying of 9-year-old Nydra Ross of Dayton.

A grand jury in Collin County, Texas, about 30 miles north of Dallas, indicted Penton on June 17 in the three girls' deaths in Texas.

The next step will be a hearing in Marion County Common Pleas Court, where Penton can agree to extradition or fight his return to Texas.

John Bay, Penton's public defender, has said Penton might fight extradition, arguing his client was not in Texas at the time of two of the killings.

Penton is accused of killing Roxann Hope Reyes, 3, whose mother, Tamela Reyes Lopez, is a native of Minford, Ohio, where she now lives. The girl was abducted on Nov. 3, 1987, while she picked wildflowers for her mother outside her apartment in Garland, Texas. The girl's scattered remains were found six months later about seven miles away.

Penton also was indicted in the slayings of Christi Lynn Meeks, 5, of Mesquite, Texas, and Christie Diane Proctor, 10, of Dallas. They disappeared in 1985 and 1987, respectively.

Penton had been questioned by Dallas-area authorities in 1988 because the girls died in a similar manner as the Ohio girl.

Investigators at the time said the girls were sexually assaulted and strangled. Authorities have declined to say what new evidence links Penton to the crimes.

Penton grew up in Columbus and served in the Army at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas. While there, he was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the shaking death of his infant son. He appealed and fled after posting bond.

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