Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Defendant asks for execution

Dayton man pleads guilty to three home-invasion murders

By James Hannah
The Associated Press

DAYTON, Ohio - A man pleaded guilty Tuesday to beating and stabbing three people to death during a two-day span.

Darrell Ferguson, 25, has said he wants to be executed for the slayings.

Ferguson pleaded guilty to aggravated murder during a hearing before Montgomery County Common Pleas Judges David Gowdown and Dennis Langer and Miami County Judge Jeffrey Welbaum.

Ferguson, known as "Gator," is accused in the Dec. 26, 2001, death of Thomas King, a 61-year-old man on crutches; and the deaths the next day of Arlie Fugate, 68, and his wife, Mae, 69. The murders occurred on the city's east side, about a mile apart.

After Ferguson entered his plea, the three-judge panel ordered prosecutors to present their case before it decides whether to convict Ferguson and possibly sentence him to death.

During his opening statement, Assistant Montgomery County Prosecutor David Franceschelli said Ferguson terrorized and robbed his victims, each whom was either handicapped or frail.

"Those were the victims he preyed on," Franceschelli said.

He said Ferguson had been on parole and living in a halfway house when he left on a two-day pass and failed to return.

Franceschelli said Ferguson broke into the home of King, who had injured his foot in a forklift accident and was on crutches.

The prosecutor said Ferguson took a knife from the kitchen and repeatedly stabbed King and then stomped on him with steel-toed work boots.

Ferguson then stole several television sets and a stereo and sold the items to buy crack cocaine, Franceschelli said.

Ferguson later broke into the home of the Fugates and stabbed the couple multiple times with a knife he took from their kitchen, Franceschelli said. He said Ferguson also stomped the Fugates.

Meanwhile, the Ohio Supreme Court halted the scheduled Sept. 30 execution of Stephen Vrabel after he asked the court to waive all further appeals. The court granted a motion by Vrabel's attorneys for an assessment of their client's competency to make such a request.

Vrabel was convicted in 1995 of two counts of aggravated murder in the deaths of his girlfriend, Susan Clemente, and their daughter, Lisa. They were shot in the head in March 1989 and their bodies were found in a refrigerator in their Struthers, Ohio, home a month later.

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