Death penalty under review in Ohio

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

There are 140 inmates on Ohio Death Row, including 20 from the Miami Valley.

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, to delay seven executions this year and ask the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction for a new execution protocol.

RELATED: Report: Capital punishment declining across the nation

A public records request for DRC’s recommendations sent to DeWine was denied on the basis that it contained attorney-client privileged information.

House Speaker Larry Householder, R-Glenford, told reporters Thursday that members of his majority caucus are discussing options, including doing away with capital punishment.

“We don’t know that there is an option right now,” Householder said. “We may have a law in place that allows for a death penalty that we can’t carry out.”

Householder said he is concerned about the cost of prosecuting death penalty cases, including multiple appeals, and he said adding alternative execution methods is problematic.

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“Well, I don’t think we want to come back to hanging, and I don’t think shootings would be good,” he said. “Electrocution is sort of off the table. I don’t know what the method would be.”

Under current state law, lethal injection is the only permissible method.

Abolishing the death penalty would likely face opposition in the GOP-controlled Ohio Senate. “I think that the majority of Ohioans support the option of the death penalty in certain cases,” Senate President Larry Obhof said in July. Obhof’s spokesman said Thursday: “We have not discussed abolishing the death penalty.”

Repealing the death penalty in Ohio wouldn’t be easy, but Hannah Kubbins, director of Ohioans to Stop Executions, said she’s encouraged to hear conversations are taking place.

“I’ve been cautiously optimistic about things,” she said. “I think everyone is starting to get pretty frustrated with the system overall.”

In a 2019 Gallup poll released in November, 60 percent of Americans indicate they believe life in prison without parole is better punishment over execution, but 56 percent broadly support using the death penalty for convicted murderers.

Here is a look at the local cases of inmates condemned to death:

Butler County7 men from Butler County are on Ohio's Death Row. Here's what they did

Von Davis: Davis, who twice had his death penalty overturned in appeals, has admitted to killing his former girlfriend, Suzette Butler, in December 1983 in Hamilton. At the time, Davis was on parole for the 1970 stabbing death of his wife, Ernestine, 20, at her Hamilton home.

Donald Ketterer: He pleaded guilty in 2004 to 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: Loza 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.

Gregory Osie: Osie was convicted in April 2010 of aggravated murder, aggravated robbery and tampering with evidence. He was sentenced to death for killing David Williams at his Liberty Twp. home.

Kenneth W. Smith: Kenneth Smith and his brother, Randy, were convicted of robbing and killing Ruth and Lewis Ray in their Hamilton home in May 1995. Both Smiths were convicted of murder with death penalty specifications, but only Kenneth was sentenced to death.

Clifford Williams: Clifford Williams, then 18, was convicted of shooting and killing a taxi driver in Hamilton on Aug. 3, 1990.

Clark County:

Timothy Coleman: Coleman was sentenced to death on Jan 2. 1996 for the aggravated murder of Melinda Stevens. Coleman shot Stevens twice in the head to prevent her from testifying against him in a drug-related case, according to prosecutors.

Juan Kinley: Juan Kinley was sentenced to death in 1991 for the aggravated murder of his ex-girlfriend and her son. On Jan. 10, 1989, Thelma (31) and David (12) Miller were found on a garage floor where they had been butchered with a machete.

Kerry Perez: Perez, of Springfield, was sentenced to death row for the aggravated murder of Ronald Johnson. Perez shot and killed Johnson during a March 2003 bar robbery.

William Sapp: William Sapp was indicted on nine counts of aggravated murder and 18 other charges for murder of two young girls and one woman.

Greene County:

Richard Bays: Bays was placed on death row for the Nov. 15, 1993 killing of Charles H. Weaver of Xenia. Bays repeatedly attacked the wheelchair-bound elderly man when he would not give him money for drugs.

David Myers: Myers was placed on death row on March 1, 1996 for the murder of Amanda Jo Maher. In 1988, Myers strangled Maher, mother of one and pregnant, then drove a railroad spike through her head near some abandoned railroad tracks in Xenia.

Montgomery County:

Davel Chinn: Davel “Tony” Chinn was sentenced to death on Sept. 1, 1989. Chinn and one other had abducted Brian K. Jones in his car from a parking lot in downtown Dayton on Jan. 30, 1989. After arriving in Jefferson Twp., Chinn shot Jones in the shoulder, causing an arterial bleed.

Antonio Franklin: Franklin was sentenced to death in 1998 for the murder of his uncle and grandparents. At 19, Franklin was the youngest Death Row inmate to be sentenced in Montgomery County at that time.

Larry Gapen: Gapen was placed on death row in 2001 for the murder of three. Gapen had used an ax to beat his former wife, her companion and her 13-year-old daughter to death in September 2000.

Samuel Moreland: Moreland was sentenced to death for the November 1985 murders of his girlfriend Glenna Green and Green’s daughter Lana Green and Green’s grandchildren Datrin Talbott, Datwan Talbott, Voilana Green. Three other children were beaten and/or shot and left for dead.

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Duane Short: Short was placed on death row for the double murder of his estranged wife and her friend in 2004.

Warren County:

Terry Froman: Froman was sentenced to death for kidnapping and murdering his ex-girlfriend in September 2014 on Interstate 75 near Middletown after fatally shooting her son in Kentucky. The son had tried to stop the kidnapping.

Austin Myers: Austin Myers, 19, was sentenced on Oct. 6, 2014 for the aggravated murder of a former friend, Justin Black. Myers, with an accomplice, had planned to break in to the victim’s home to steal money and make Black’s disappearance look like a run-away.

Information from the Associated Press and the Columbus Dispatch is included in this report.

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