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

Von Clark Davis was twice before sentenced to die for the same crime.

HAMILTON — 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 25 years ago, should return to Ohio’s Death Row.

Butler County Common Pleas Judges Andrew Nastoff, Keith Spaeth and Charles Pater began deliberations about 4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 10, in the resentencing of Davis, 62, who twice had his death penalty overturned in appeals.

The judges could have sentenced Davis to 30-years-to-life in prison after three days of testimony, but instead chose death.

As Davis was led from the courtroom, he told bailiff Joe Rich to “take care.”

On Tuesday, Davis took the stand and for the first time admitted to killing his former girlfriend, Suzette Butler, in December 1983 in Hamilton.

He offered an apology to Fonsea Butler, Suzette’s daughter, who was 7 at the time of her mother’s death.

When he shot Suzette Butler multiple times in the head, he was on parole for the 1970 stabbing death of his wife, Ernestine, 20, at her Hamilton home.

Prosecutors attempted to call Fonsea Butler as a witness during the trial, but it was disallowed by the judges.

She then wrote a message she hoped to read to Davis after the sentencing, but her request was denied.

Fonsea Butler did get a chance to have her say minutes after the courtroom cleared. She and Davis met in a secured area, according to defense attorney Melynda Cook-Reich.

During that meeting, Davis asked for forgiveness.

“She said she had already forgiven him,” Cook-Reich said. “It was something they both needed.”

Butler said Davis gave her a personal apology during the meeting, which she said was different from the one he gave while testifying to the judges.

“I am really OK,” she said, noting it has been a long journey to reach the point of total forgiveness.

During the sentencing hearing, defense attorneys called witnesses to present mitigating factors to discourage imposition of the death penalty.

Among the considerations raised were his family’s love, a borderline personality disorder, the cost-savings of housing him in the prison’s general population and the likelihood he would never be paroled.

The sentence will now start another round of appeals, according to prosecutors.

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