7 men from Butler County are on Ohio’s Death Row. Here’s what they did.

Ohio political leaders have debated the future of capital punishment, given the state’s struggle to find a supply of lethal injection drugs.

Drug makers have threatened to cut off access to medications if Ohio uses them to carry out executions. That prompted Gov. Mike DeWine, who took office in January 2019, to delay seven executions last year and ask the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction for a new execution protocol.


The Journal-News previously studied what death row inmates are from Butler County. There are seven inmates from Butler County in prison and 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.

MORE: Twice-convicted killer sentenced to die — for a third time

Donald Ketterer

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

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.

Calvin McKelton

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.

MORE: Man convicted in double murder given death sentence

Gregory Osie

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.

MORE: Execution date stayed for West Chester Twp. man

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

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

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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