The Ohio House voted 76-17 on Wednesday in favor of legislation that would prohibit executing inmates who suffered from serious mental illness at the time they committed their crimes.
Of the 137 Ohio prison inmates sentenced to death for convictions of aggravated murder, seven are connected to Butler County.
There are no death penalty cases pending in Butler County, according to court records.
The last Butler County person to be executed by lethal injection was Michael Benge, 49, of Hamilton. In 2010, Benge was executed at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville for the beating death of his estranged girlfriend Judy Gabbard in June 1993.
Benge’s execution was Ohio’s eighth lethal injection in 2010 — the most in a year since the state resumed capital punishment in 1999. The previous high was seven in 2004. The most executions occurred in 1949, when 15 men died by electric chair.
Here is a look at the seven inmates from Butler County on death row:
Von Clark Davis
In September 2009, it took a three-judge panel less than 60 minutes to affirm that twice-convicted killer Von Clark Davis, who was first sentenced to die 35 years earlier, should return to Ohio’s Death Row.
Davis, 72, who twice had his death penalty overturned in appeals, has admitted to killing his former girlfriend, Suzette Butler, in December 1983 in Hamilton.
When he shot Butler multiple times in the head, he was on parole for the 1970 stabbing death of his wife, Ernestine, 20, at her Hamilton home.
Donald Ketterer, 68, of Butler County, pleaded guilty in a 2004 trial for the murder and robbery of 85-year-old Lawrence Sanders. A three-judge panel sentenced Ketterer to death with an additional 22 years for other charges.
He stabbed to Sanders to death, and struck him in the head with a cast-iron skillet.
Jose Loza, 45, of Middletown, was sentenced in 1991 for shooting and killing four members of his girlfriend’s Middletown family. The victims were shot in the head at close range while they slept in their home.
In 2010, convicted killer Calvin McKelton was sentenced to death for the execution-style shooting of a witness who saw him strangle his girlfriend, Fairfield attorney Margaret “Missy” Allen.
Butler County Common Pleas Judge Michael Sage also sentenced the then-33-year-old Cincinnati man to 15 years to life in prison for Allen’s murder and an additional 14 years for a string of other felony charges related to dumping her body and trying to cover up evidence in her home.
McKelton showed no emotion when the judge imposed the death penalty that a jury recommend, but maintained his innocence during a brief statement before the sentence.
“I would like to say, I am innocent of these charges, I was wrongfully indicted, wrongfully convicted… but I believe the same system that failed me will be the same system that sets me free,” McKelton said, adding he will appeal.
McKelton was convicted of killing Allen in July 2008 and for the February 2009 shooting death of Germaine Evans Sr. in a Cincinnati park. Evans’ murder carried the possibility of a death penalty because he was killed so that he could not implicate McKelton in Allen’s death, which is an aggravating factor, according to Ohio law.
Five years ago, the Ohio Supreme Court stayed the execution of a former West Chester Twp. man who was convicted in 2009 for murdering his girlfriend’s boss to cover up the woman’s alleged theft.
Gregory Osie, 53, was scheduled to die on June 15, 2016, but in 2014 the state’s highest court granted this motion to stay that date until all state appeals are exhausted.
Osie was convicted by a three-judge panel in April 2010 of aggravated murder, aggravated robbery and tampering with evidence. He was sentenced to death for the killing of David Williams at his Liberty Twp. home.
Kenneth Smith and his brother, Randy, were convicted of robbing and killing Ruth and Lewis Ray in their Hamilton home in May 1995.
The 6th District Court of Appeals in Cincinnati has heard the appeals Kenneth Smith has made to stave off his death sentence.
Both Smiths were convicted of murder with death penalty specifications, but only Kenneth was sentenced to death row.
Randy Smith received a life sentence with parole eligibility after 30 years.
Clifford Williams, then 18, was convicted of shooting and killing a taxi driver in Hamilton on Aug. 3, 1990. He hailed the taxi, shot the driver in the head and stole his money.
He was convicted of aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, and breaking and entering.
Williams was admitted to the Chillicothe Correctional Institution in February 1991. He’s been there ever since, awaiting an execution date.
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