Tag Archives: Ashan Aydah

Not in my name, Governor Kasich

Ask Ohio Governor John Kasich to grant clemency to John Jeffrey Eley.

Unless Governor Kasich acts, the State of Ohio will execute Eley on July 26, 2012 for his role in the 1986 murder of Ahsan Aydah.

Ohioans to Stop Executions urges Governer Kasich to grant clemency because:

Prominent individuals connected to the case support clemency for Mr. Eley because they no longer feel his case necessitates his execution. These individuals include:

  • Gary Van Brocklin, the prosecuting attorney who tried the case.
  • The Hon. Peter Economus, one of the three judges who sentenced Mr. Eley to death.
  • Retired detective Joseph Fajack, the lead investigator on the case who secured Mr. Eley’s confession.
  • Guy Trammel, a probation officer familiar with Mr. Eley who prepared the presentencing report.

In addition to the unprecedented support of these prominent individuals, Mr. Eley is developmentally disabled (in the past, this was termed “mentally retarded”). The United States Supreme Court has disallowed the execution of anyone with such low intellectual function.

Three parole board members recommended clemency based on the following facts:

  • The prosecuting attorney supports clemency.
  • Mr. Eley suffers from a developmental disability, which the parole board affirmed, stating, “he is intellectually challenged.”
  • Mr. Eley was influenced to commit the crime by his accomplice.
  • Mr. Eley exhibits extremely low intellectual functioning.
  • Mr. Eley was offered a plea bargain.
  • Mr. Eley’s crime is not the “worst of the worst.”

The Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center of Cincinnati offers the following (slightly edited) report on Eley’s case and recent clemency hearing:

Eley was convicted for murdering 28-year-old Aydah during a robbery of a grocery store. Eley told investigators at the time that he shot Aydah after the shopkeeper reached under a counter for a gun. He said he was aiming at the victim’s shoulder and did not intend to kill him, though the gunshot entered Aydah’s head inches above the earlobe.

The Ohio Parole Board rejected a plea for clemency for Aydah by a 5 to 3 vote on June 20, 2012. Federal public defender Vicki Werneke argued Tuesday during the hearing that Eley is an intellectually disabled, easily manipulated man who followed the lead of another, Melvin Green, the real instigator of the robbery who put the black, snub-nose gun in Eley’s hand the day of the crime.

Public defenders pointed out other mitigating factors — Eley’s impoverished childhood, a history of alcohol and drug abuse and head injuries, and likely brain impairment — as reasons for a sentence commutation. And a psychologist presented as an expert in mental retardation said he believed Eley is mentally disabled and, if tried today, likely would not qualify for a death penalty.

But Assistant Mahoning County Prosecutor Ralph Rivera called Eley a career criminal with a lengthy record who “has never learned from his mistakes” and who “denies all responsibility for the crime,” despite his earlier confession.

“It was the defendant who chose to go with Melvin Green, and he chose to end Mr. Aydah’s life,” he said.

Those words contain truth. I grieve for Ashan Aydah and for all who love him. I grieve that violence cut his life short.

But executing John Jeffrey Eley will not bring Ashan Aydah back to life. It will not protect the people of Ohio any more effectively than we would be by Eley serving the rest of his life in prison.

An execution would be an act of vengeance that perpetuates violence within our culture.

So I call on Governor Kasich to grant clemency: no executions in my name.

See you along the Trail.


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