Ohio Supreme Court

Mentor-on-the-Lake death penalty case: New trial confirmed by Ohio Supreme Court

December 13, 2017

Joseph Thomas

It’s official.

The former Perry Township man who was sentenced to death row for a Mentor woman’s rape and murder will get a new trial.

The Ohio Supreme Court has refused to reconsider its previous decision that reversed Joseph Thomas’ convictions.

Thomas was found guilty in 2012 for the death of Annie McSween.

The 49-year-old victim’s body was found on Nov. 26, 2010, in a wooded area outside of Mario’s Lakeway Lounge in Mentor-on- the-Lake, where she worked as a bartender.

Lake County Prosecutor Charles Coulson said he is disappointed the high court did not grant his request to reconsider the case.

“In my opinion, the court’s reasoning for reversal was both factually and legally flawed as pointed out in our motion for reconsideration,” Coulson said. “Now we will have to retry the case.”

A new trial date before Lake County Common Pleas Judge Richard L. Collins Jr. had not yet been scheduled.

Thomas will remain in prison until trial, the prosecutor said.

After Thomas was convicted, Collins chose to adopt the jury’s recommendation of death rather than downgrade the sentence to life in prison. In a 4-3 vote in October, the Supreme Court overturned the death sentence and ordered a new trial be scheduled for Thomas.

The Lake County Prosecutor’s Office then filed a motion for reconsideration, arguing that the high court’s majority neglected to fully analyze the issues, confused legal standards and failed to use its own law, instead “cherry-picking cases from outside Ohio” to make its decision.

McSween was strangled and stabbed multiple times in the neck and back on Black Friday. The power lines to the bar had been cut, and McSween and two other women had their tires slashed.

Thomas has maintained his innocence and claimed he had no motivation to commit the crime.

Although Thomas had frequently been seen carrying a blue pocketknife before that night, it was not recovered during the criminal investigation. At trial, prosecutors introduced five other knives Thomas owned, describing them as “full Rambo combat knives.”

Justice Terrence O’Donnell wrote the court’s lead opinion, which determined the trial court committed plain error by admitting those five knives that prosecutors knew were not used in the crime into evidence. The majority found a reasonable probability that the error affected the outcome of the trial, and that reversal was necessary to prevent a manifest miscarriage of justice.

“The state claims that the Court has ignored Ohio cases on this evidentiary issue, in favor of cases from other jurisdictions. That is a false and unfair accusation,” Thomas’ appellate lawyer Timothy F. Sweeney argued.

The three dissenting justices found the prosecution presented substantial evidence to support the jury’s verdict independent of the admitted knife evidence.

Ohio Supreme Court to hear local man’s death penalty appeal

December  4,  2017




COLUMBUS, Ohio — On Tuesday, the Ohio Supreme Court is to preside over a legal debate over whether the death penalty should be executed on a young Clayton man – the second youngest on Ohio’s Death Row – for the murder of an even younger Warren County man at his home outside Waynesville in January 2014, according to the Journal-News.

Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell will personally argue for the state to continue forward toward the execution of Austin Myers, now 22, of Clayton, although another Clayton man, Timothy Mosley – like Myers 19 years old at the time – actually stabbed to death Justin Back, 18, a 2013 Waynesville High School graduate about to enter the U.S. Navy.

“Austin Myers killed Justin. Tim was his weapon of choice,” Fornshell said last week, quoting Back’s stepfather, Mark Cates, a local prison guard.

It will be Fornshell’s first appearance before the high court on behalf of Warren County.

Lawyers appointed to appeal Myers’ death sentence have identified 18 violations of law they claim should convince the state’s high court to set aside his death sentence, including his age and the lesser sentence – life in prison without paroleMosley received in exchange for his testimony.

Three years later, Myers is still the second youngest of 140 Ohio prisoners facing the death penalty. Damantae Graham, 20, convicted of killing a Kent State University student, is the only one younger.

Myers’ lawyers also claim errors or misconduct by the judge, prosecutors and defense lawyers in the case, decided more than three years ago in Warren County Common Pleas Court, should convince the high court, including appointed Judge Cynthia Westcott Rice of Ohio’s 11th District Court of Appeals, to spare his life.

“Mr. Myers’s rights under the Constitution of the United States and the Ohio Constitution were violated and he was denied a fair trial and sentencing proceeding. Accordingly, this Court should reverse and discharge the defendant or grant a new trial. In the alternative, this Court should vacate the death sentence, remand for a resentencing hearing, and order the life sentence imposed,” lawyer Timothy McKenna said in his brief to the high court.

The appeal, pending since Oct. 27, 2014, was set for oral arguments on Oct. 20, after a second Ohio Death Row inmate was executed. These came after the postponement of scheduled executions starting in January 2014 following problems during the execution of Dennis McGuire, a Preble County man.

Rice was appointed to the high court on Nov. 6, replacing Justice Bill O’Neill, who recused himself after announcing he was running for governor.

The case

Myers and Mosley were arrested in July 2014 after Back’s mutilated body was found in Preble County, in a wooded area outside Versailles known as Crybaby Bridge. They both gave statements during interrogation at the Clayton Police Department used by investigators in reconstructing the crime, according to police and court records.

According to their statements, Mosely’s testimony and other evidence, after a day of preparation and planning, Myers and Mosley went to Back’s home in a small neighborhood along the Little Miami River, east of Waynesvile. With a garrote – fashioned by a friend who was not charged – Mosley came up behind Back and began choking him, while Myers restrained Back. When the garrote caught on Back’s chin, Mosley pulled out a knife and stabbed Back to death.

After cleaning the home and stealing Back’s iPod and wallet, as well as a gun and safe belonging to Cates, Mosley and Myers removed Back’s body, dumping it in Preble County after dousing it with chemicals to quicken decomposition. Before leaving the body, Myers shot it twice with Cates’ gun.

At trial, prosecutors convinced the jury that Myers was the mastermind of the crime and he was sentenced to die. Mosley, in exchange for his testimony, was sentenced in a plea bargain to life without parole.

The issues

Mosley was represented by Dennis Lieberman, a lawyer hired by Mosley’s family. Myers was represented by Greg Howard and John Kaspar, appointed by the court.

But Fornshell said Mosley got the deal because – unlike Myers- he offered to cooperate. Prosecutors needed one or the other to “put in the back story,” Fornshell said.

In addition, Fornshell said Mosley accepted responsibility and Myers was “exponentially more dangerous,” pointing to evidence indicating Myers handled the bulk of the planning and wanted to go back and kill Cates.

He’s a serial killer who got caught the first time,” Fornshell added.“There is absolutely no doubt in my mind.”

McKenna and co-counsel Roger Kirk did not respond to requests for interviews.

But their 110-page brief indicates they will emphasize Myers “was a 19 year-old immature adolescent with behavioral issues” who should be spared the death penalty, in part because Mosley’s sentence spared his life, although he wielded the murder weapon.

In addition, they claim prosecutors rendered Myers’ lawyers “admittedly ineffective” by withholding evidence until “on the Friday eve before the Monday trial,”as well as the fact that Mosley was to be a witness.

The appeal

The appeal is to be the first of a series of cases heard on Tuesday and Wednesday.

All arguments are streamed live online at sc.ohio.gov and broadcast live and archived on the Ohio Channel, according a release from the high court.

The court typically issues opinions within six months, but it was unclear when a decision would be issued in this case.

OHIO – Man wrongfully sent to Death Row hopes court will reverse ruling – Dale Johnston

april 9, 2014

A Grove City man sentenced to death for a pair of Hocking County murders he did not commit is turning to the Ohio Supreme Court in his bid to be declared wrongfully imprisoned.

Dale Johnston has attempted for more than 20 years to win a court judgment so he could seek monetary damages for the seven years he spent on Death Row before being freed when an appellate court overturned his convictions.

He now is asking the justices to reverse a Feb. 20 ruling by the Franklin County Court of Appeals that threw out a trial-judge’s finding he was illegally detained for the 1982 dismemberment slayings of his stepdaughter and her fiancé.

The appellate judges ruled that the judge erred when he retroactively extended a 2003 change in the wrongful-imprisonment law to Johnston’s case.

Johnston and his lawyer are arguing the appellate ruling, sought by the office of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, misinterprets the law and asks the justices to rule in his favor.

“It may be safe to say that no reasonable person in the history of the world would or could review the facts surrounding these gruesome homicides and think anything other than Dale Johnston is and was an innocent man victimized by Ohio’s criminal justice system,” his lawyers wrote in their filing.

Johnston was sentenced to die in the electric chair in 1984 for the shooting deaths of Annette Cooper, 18, and Todd Schultz, 19, whose bodies were cut up and buried in a cornfield and thrown into the Hocking River.

In 2008, Chester McKnight, a drifter and drug addict, confessed to killing the couple and was sentenced to life imprisonment, freeing Johnston to again pursue his quest to be declared wrongfully imprisoned.

OHIO – Court to weigh DNA testing for man given death penalty in 1990 Portage County slaying – TYRONE NOLING

october 15, 2012 http://www.ohio.com/

COLUMBUS: The Ohio Supreme Court plans to hear arguments in the case of a condemned inmate whose attorneys argue DNA testing could help exonerate him.

At issue is the case of death row prisoner Tyrone Noling, convicted in 1996 of fatally shooting an elderly Portage County couple at their home.

The Supreme Court on Monday scheduled a Jan. 8 hearing for arguments from both sides.

Noling has been on death row at the Ohio State Penitentiary since his conviction in the slayings of Bearnhardt and Cora Hartig at their Atwater Township home.

The Hartigs, both 81, were shot multiple times in the chest April 5, 1990, as they sat at their kitchen table, according to the police investigation.

Lawyers for the Ohio Innocence Project want to test a cigarette butt found at the scene against DNA profiles of offenders in a national database, including a convicted killer who was executed.

The state says previous tests have excluded Noling as the smoker of the butt and says new testing would prove nothing.

A lower court judge has twice denied the request.



July 11, 2012

On July 10, Ohio Governor John Kasich (pictured) granted clemency to death row inmate John Eley, who was scheduled to be executed on July 26.  Eley’s sentence was reduced to life in prison without parole. The governor said he based his decision on evidence that Eley acted under the direction of another person, and that his mental capacity was limited, saying, “Without those factors it is doubtful that Eley would have committed this crime.” The prosecutor in the case and one of the judges who sentenced Eley to death called for mercy. The Ohio Parole Board voted 5-3 against recommending clemency.  Those who voted for clemency said that Eley’s crime was not one of the “worst of the worst,” and that similar crimes rarely receive death sentences. This is the third death-row clemency granted by Gov. Kasich, including two issued in 2

The Ohio Supreme Court summarized the facts of the case as follows:

During the early afternoon of August 26, 1986, Eley was visiting Melvin Green at the home of Green’s girlfriend in Youngstown. Accordingto Eley, he and Green were just sitting around when Green suggested that they go down to the “Arab store.” Eley and Green left the house and proceeded down a path through the woods leading to the Sinjil Market.
Along the way, Green showed Eley a “Black Snub nose gun,” and told Eley he “was going to take the Arab off.” Since the proprietor of the store, Ihsan Aydah, knew Green’s face, Eley agreed to go in alone and rob the store while Green waited outside.
Eley entered the store and told Aydah to put his hands up and to turn and face the wall. Green had told Eley that Aydah had a gun under the store counter, so when Aydah lowered his hands and went under the counter, Eley fired a shot. Eley claimed that he aimed at Aydah’s shoulder. However, the shot hit Aydah on the right side of his head, approximately four inches above the earlobe. Aydah died the next day of shock and hemorrhage due to a gunshot wound to the head.Just before Eley fired the gun, Green entered the store. After the shot, Green ran behind the counter and got into the cash register. He took Aydah’s wallet while Aydah lay wounded on the floor. As the two left the store, Green gave Eley a brown paper bag with the money and wallet. According to Eley, they went up the street, “got to the path and run up the woods.”. . .

Several days after the murder, Eley was arrested by Youngstown police at the residence of his cousin’s girlfriend, Carlotta Skinner. After his arrest, Eley told police that he and Green had split the money taken in the robbery, which was around $700. However, Eley later gave the money back to Green “because he said it was all on him and he had to get out.”
. . .
[After being arrested, i]n his voluntary statement Eley admitted that he and Green had robbed the Sinjil Market, and that he shot Aydah. [The arresting officer] testified that Eley did not appear to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs during the interview and was “very calm” and “passive.” The grand jury indicted Eley on one count of aggravated murder
with a specification that the murder was committed during, or immediately after, the commission of an aggravated robbery
According to an affidavit of trial counsel, before trial Eley refused to accept various plea offers that were conditioned on Eley’s testimony against Green, including an offer of a voluntary manslaughter charge with a six-year sentence. that Eley was the principal offender. This count also carried a firearm specification. In addition, Eley was indicted on one count of aggravated robbery (R.C. 2911.01[A][1] and [2]) and one count of conspiracy (R.C.2923.01[A]). Each count carried a firearm specification.
In May 1987, Eley waived his right to a jury trial and opted for a trial before a three-judge panel. Eley pled not guilty to the charges against him, there by withdrawing a prior plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. . . .
Trial was held before a three-judge panel on May 11–12, 1987, but the defense chose not to present any evidence. The panel found Eleyguilty of aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, the felony-murder capital specification, and two of the three firearm specifications, but no guilty of conspiracy. During the mitigation hearing, several family members testified
on Eley’s behalf. Eley’s mother, Cecilia Joseph, divorced Eley’s father when Eley was seven or eight years old, and stated that Eley had “not much” of a relationship with his father. Joseph testified that on Christmas night 1964, her second husband had been drinking and began choking her and her daughter. At that time, Eley stabbed the second husband with a knife in order to stop him. Joseph testified that Eley dropped out of high school in the ninth grade, but later entered the Job Corps and learned to be a welder. Eley sent money home to his mother during this time, and gave her money to help her finish paying for nursing school. Joseph stated that while Eley has had problems with drugs and alcohol, he is a better person when he is not under the influence. She characterized Eley as “church oriented,” and believed he had been “born again.”
Eley’s sister, Susan Laury, testified that Eley had helped the family financially while he was in the Job Corps, and that Eley is normally a “quiet, sweet, gentle person that wouldn’t hurt anybody.”Dr. Douglas Darnall, a clinical psychologist, found Eley to be of borderline intelligence, and ranked him in the twelfth percentile on theWechsler Adult Intelligence Test. According to Darnall, Eley has a history of chronic alcohol and polysubstance abuse, but exhibited “no evidence of psychosis or major defective disorder.” In addition, Darnall testified that Eley understands the difference between right and wrong. Darnall found Eley to be remorseful, but Eley never mentioned that he felt remorse for the victim. However, two police officers who witnessed Eley’s confession testified that Eley was remorseful before he made that statement. Eley made a short unsworn statement at the mitigation phase that consisted of several biblical quotations from the Book of Romans.

After deliberation, the panel unanimously found that the aggravating circumstance outweighed the mitigating factors beyond a reasonable doubt, and sentenced Eley to death. Upon appeal, the courtof appeals affirmed the convictions and sentence of death.

OHIO – Abdul Awkal gets reprieve

June 15, 2012 


CLEVELAND: An Ohio judge has ruled a condemned killer not mentally competent to be executed for the death of his wife and brother-in-law.

The ruling Friday by Cuyahoga County Judge Stuart Friedman on Abdul Awkal comes just a week after Gov. John Kasich ordered a last-minute reprieve hours before Awkal was set to die.

Awkal is convicted of killing his estranged wife and brother-in-law in a Cleveland courthouse in 1992 as the couple prepared to divorce.

Awkal’s attorneys had argued during several days of testimony that he is so mentally ill he believes the CIA is orchestrating his execution.

The Ohio Parole Board voted 8-1 last month against recommending mercy. Most members concluded Awkal had planned the shooting and it wasn’t because of a psychotic breakdown.

June 6, 2012 Source : http://www.marionstar.com

COLUMBUS – Ohio Gov. John Kasich has granted a condemned killer a two-week reprieve to allow a court to conduct a hearing on the inmate’s mental competency.

The reprieve Tuesday evening temporarily spared Abdul Awkal, who was facing execution today.

Kasich said he ordered the reprieve to allow Cuyahoga County Judge Stuart Friedman enough time to hold a hearing on Awkal’s mental condition. Friedman ruled Monday there was evidence to believe Awkal was not competent to be executed.

The 53-year-old Awkal was sentenced to die for killing his estranged wife from an arranged marriage and his brother-in-law in a Cuyahoga County court basement in 1992.

The man convicted in the slayings of his estranged wife and brother-in-law at a Cleveland courthouse was in good spirits Tuesday at the southern Ohio prison where he is being held.

If put to death, Abdul Awkal would be the second man Ohio executes this year since the end of an unofficial moratorium on capital punishment that lasted six months.

The Ohio Supreme Court late Tuesday afternoon rejected 5-2 Awkal’s request to delay the execution to allow a hearing about his mental competency, a request opposed by the state.

Awkal’s mental health has been the subject of court hearings for years, and a Cuyahoga County judge ruled Monday that there was enough evidence that Awkal was insane to justify a hearing about his competency.

Awkal’s attorneys said a delay was necessary to conduct a proper court hearing on Awkal’s competency before Wednesday’s execution.

The state opposed the request, and Republican Gov. John Kasich and the Ohio Parole Board rejected Awkal’s request for mercy based on his mental health allegations.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason said a delay at this stage was unnecessary and the request wasn’t fair to surviving family members.

The Ohio Parole Board voted 8-1 last month against recommending mercy, with most members concluding that Awkal planned the shooting and that it wasn’t the result of a psychotic breakdown.

OHIO – Ohio Set To Execute Severely Mentally Ill Inmate Next Week – Abdul Awkal STAYED

UPDATE : june 15

CLEVELAND: An Ohio judge has ruled a condemned killer not mentally competent to be executed for the death of his wife and brother-in-law.

The ruling Friday by Cuyahoga County Judge Stuart Friedman on Abdul Awkal comes just a week after Gov. John Kasich ordered a last-minute reprieve hours before Awkal was set to die.

Awkal is convicted of killing his estranged wife and brother-in-law in a Cleveland courthouse in 1992 as the couple prepared to divorce.

Awkal’s attorneys had argued during several days of testimony that he is so mentally ill he believes the CIA is orchestrating his execution.

The Ohio Parole Board voted 8-1 last month against recommending mercy. Most members concluded Awkal had planned the shooting and it wasn’t because of a psychotic breakdown.

UPDATE : june 5 source : http://www.abc6onyourside.com

Inmate Moved for Death Penalty to be Carried Out

COLUMBUS — Ohio prison officials are beginning their preparations to execute a man convicted in the 1992 slayings of his estranged wife and brother-in-law at a courthouse in Cleveland’s Cuyahoga County.

If put to death, 53-year-old Abdul Awkal would be the second man Ohio executes since lifting an unofficial moratorium on the death penalty that lasted six months.

Awkal, whose execution is Wednesday, was sentenced to death for shooting Latife Awkal, his spouse from an arranged marriage, and brother-in-law Mahmoud Abdul-Aziz, as the couple was taking up divorce and custody issues.

Awkal’s attorneys asked the state Supreme Court Monday to delay the execution to allow a hearing on Awkal’s mental competency.

The state opposes the delay and Awkal’s earlier requests for clemency were denied.

Update : May 29, 2012 Source http://thinkprogress.org

On June 6, Ohio is scheduled to execute Abdul Awkal for the murder of his estranged wife and brother-in-law unless Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) grants a pending clemency petition, or a court steps in with a last minute order. Here’s the facts about the mental health of the man set to be executed next Wednesday:

  • Survived a Civil War: In 1975, when Abdul was sixteen years old, a civil war erupted in his home country of Lebanon. Abdul lived through this war for eight years before he was able to escape to Michigan to live with family members. Although Abdul never sought treatment during his first months in the United States and thus was not diagnosed with a mental illness until sometime later, he said that he spent his first four months in America sitting on his brother’s couch — behavior an Ohio clemency board said was “as if he was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.”
  • History of Mental Breakdowns: Abdul eventually found work as a gas station attendant. About a year after he arrived in the United States, however, he was wrongfully accused of stealing from his employer. According to the Ohio Supreme Court, he then suffered a mental breakdown. Abdul “became hysterical, cursing and breaking things, vomited and then collapsed.” He was taken to a Detroit hospital in a straitjacket and later released with instructions (that he disregarded) to seek psychiatric treatment. Some time later, Abdul suffered at least one more mental breakdown as his marriage to the woman he eventually killed became increasingly dysfunctional. A mental hospital again told him to seek psychiatric care, but he did not follow up because he says he could not afford treatment.
  • Suicidal Depression: In November of 1991, about two months before he would kill his estranged wife and brother-in-law, Abdul finally did attend four counseling sessions because he was depressed and had thoughts of suicide.
  • Hallucinations: On January 7, 1992, Abdul shot his wife and brother-in-law during a meeting related to Abdul’s pending divorce. While awaiting trial in an Ohio jail, he began having hallucinations. Abdul says he saw his wife speak to him and tell him to “join her.”
  • Incompetent to Stand Trial: Abdul’s trial was delayed after a court found him mentally incompetent to assist in his defense. During the period between his arrest and his trial, county psychiatrists experimented with various anti-depressant, anti-psychotic and anti-anxiety drugs in an attempt to control his hallucinations and enable him to participate in the trial, and a judge eventually deemed him competent to state trial in September of 1992. During the pre-trial period, the prosecution also offered him a plea bargain, which he rejected, that would have taken the death penalty off the table. It’s not clear what Abdul’s mental state was when he rejected this deal.
  • Second Finding of Mental Incompetency: In 2004, Abdul wrote a federal judge asking that his appeals be terminated and that he be executed swiftly. The judge responded by ordering a psychiatric evaluation. Twelve years after his arrest, Abdul was diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder, depressed type and determined to be mentally incompetent to waive his appeals.
  • Letters to the CIA: In 2001, Abdul started writing letters to then-CIA Directors George Tenet and Porter Goss, along with former CBS new anchor Dan Rather and, eventually, President Obama offering advice on how to fight terrorism and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In one letter to Obama, for example, Abdul advises that rather than dismantling or safely detonating the Taliban’s explosive devices, U.S. servicemembers in Afghanistan should “replace the electronic receiver inside the IEDs with ours and keep them buried.” Abdul also told a clemency board that he advises the CIA on “Islamic religion and culture” and that he is upset that the CIA did not listen to him after he warned them about 9/11. At other points, he’s claimed he is being executed because the “CIA wanted him dead.”

As Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart recognized almost four decades ago, the “most irrevocable of sanctions should be reserved for a small number of extreme cases.” This is why the Constitution forbids executions of juvenile offenders or the mentally retarded. And it is why the death penalty is reserved to only a handful of the most severe crimes. Indeed, American juries consider death such an extreme sanction that only 2 percent of convicted murderers are sentenced to die.

There’s no question that Abdul committed a terrible crime more than twenty years ago, and he has spent every subsequent minute of his life in state custody because of his actions. That will not change if Gov. Kasich grants Abdul clemency, or if the Supreme Court recognizes that people with severe mental illnesses do not belong on death row.

Serial killer Sowell’s execution date delayed

april 2 source : http://www.wtam.com

(Cleveland) — Convicted serial killer Anthony Sowell’s execution, originally set for October 29 of this year, has been pushed back. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled Monday on a request by Sowell’s new defense team to delay the execution.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason tells WTAM that the delay is unexpected, given that there will be appeals in the case through the entire state appellate court system and also through the federal court system. Mason says the entire process in a death penalty case could take ten to 30 years.

The execution date of October 29 was set by Common Pleas Judge Dick Ambrose when Sowell was sentenced last year. It’s the third anniversary of the date that Cleveland Police went to Sowell’s house on Imperial Avenue and found the remains of the first of the 11 women he was convicted of killing.

BREAKING NEWS: Joe D’Ambrosio becomes 140th person exonerated from death row

 Tell governor Kasich

Time out on Executions in Ohio

Joe D’Ambrosio has just become the 140th death row exoneree, and the sixth man exonerated from                    Ohio’s death row. Joe was wrongfully convicted of murdering 19-year old Anthony Klann in Cuyahoga County in 1989. Following a 2006 ruling that overturned his conviction, Joe was eventually freed in March 2010 and all charges were dismissed.

Since March 2010, prosecutors and the attorney general’s office have been appealing the dismissal but appeals courts have upheld the ruling.  The exoneration is made official because today (January 23, 2012) the United States Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal by prosecutors.

Ohioans to Stop Executions and the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty welcome Joe to freedom, and congratulate everyone on the legal team and everyone else who has stood by Joe and advocated for him all of these years.

Now it is time to Take Action!

Joe D’Ambrosio’s conviction was overturned because Cuyahoga County prosecutors withheld ten pieces of evidence that would have exonerated D’Ambrosio at his 1989 trial and implicated another man in the crime. Instead Joe spent twenty-one years on Ohio’s death row for a crime prosecutors knew he did not commit.

It’s crystal clear that executions must stop in Ohio.  No one should be executed under a system of justice while that very system is being closely examined to assess its fairness and accuracy.

This exoneration comes at a time when Ohio is already examining the many aspects of Ohio’s capital punishment system. Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor recently established a Joint Task Force for this purpose which has just begun its work. The Joint Task Force should be allowed to operate without the undue pressure of ongoing executions. Currently, Ohio has at least six executions scheduled over the next year.

Today, Ohioans to Stop Executions again calls on Governor John Kasich to issue an immediate moratorium on all executions until the Ohio Supreme Court’s Joint Task Force completes its thorough review of Ohio’s death penalty system.