Tag Archives: Ohio

Purple, not flowers, gecko

IMG_6723 (800x600)

A portrait of the puppy
with his (purple) gecko
26 December 2017
Solon, Ohio




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Clemency for Arthur Tyler

From Ohioans to Stop Executions:

Urge Governor Kasich of Ohio to grant clemency to Arthur Tyler.

The state of Ohio will execute Arthur Tyler on May 28, 2014 unless the Governor intervenes.

The co-defendant in this case, Leroy Head, has confessed no less than eleven times that he killed the victim, Sander Leach.

Today Leroy Head is a free man while Mr. Tyler awaits the death penalty.

The clemency phase is Mr. Tyler’s last chance to receive a fair sentence. In a case so riddled with doubt and inconsistencies, the Governor would be more than justified to ensure the integrity of our criminal justice system by commuting Mr. Tyler’s sentence.

Write Governor Kasich today and urge him to grant clemency for Arthur Tyler.

See you along the Trail.

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Thank you, Governor Kasich

Again, I find myself thanking Governor John Kasich of Ohio. In early June, the governor issued a reprieve for Abdul Awkal. The Ohio Supreme Court, on June 18,  indefinitely postponed the Awkal’s execution following a “lower court’s ruling last week that he could not be executed because he is mentally incompetent.

This time, I thank Governor Kasich for granting clemency to John Jeffrey Eley and commuting his sentence to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

An editorial appearing in The Plain Dealer of Cleveland notes:

… a former prosecutor, detective and judge had all raised questions about the extent to which Eley was manipulated in the 1986 murder by alleged accomplice Melvin Green taking advantage of Eley’s “borderline intelligence.” Eley used Green’s gun to rob and shoot to death 28-year-old grocer Ihsan Aydah while Green waited outside

The Plain Dealer editorial affirms its opposition to the death penalty and closes with the observation that:

A just society cannot ignore such mitigating factors. Kasich acted appropriately.

The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty provides an opportunity to thank Governor Kasich and to ask him to “impose a moratorium on future executions pending the outcome of the Ohio Supreme Court study and the implementation of its recommendations.”

I grieve at the death of Ishan Aydah. My heart goes out to those who mourn for him.

But executing Eley is not the appropriate answer. I have sent my thanks – and request for a moratorium on executions – to Governor Kasich.

See you along the Trail.

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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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Urgent action needed: Ask Governor Kasich to issue reprieve

From Ohioans to Stop Executions

Ohio plans to execute Abdul Awkal on June 6 for the 1992 murders of his estranged wife and her brother in Cleveland. There is no reasonable doubt about that. The larger question is always about the death penalty itself. The specific question in this case focuses on the mental competency of Mr. Awkal.

Here are recent developments: Governor Kasich denied clemency to Mr. Awkal on May 30 without explanation.

The governor’s decision came after the Ohio Parole Board issued a split recommendation against clemency.

I join Ohioans to Stop Executions in calling concerned individuals to contact Governor Kasich’s office by phone at 614-466-3555 or by e-mail and urge him to issue a reprieve so courts can determine if Mr. Awkal is competent for execution. Attorneys for Mr. Awkal will present new evidence that Mr. Awkal is incompetent to be executed.

Learn more about the case.

I vote in Ohio – long story – but I do – and only in Ohio.

I have contacted Governor Kasich telling him that I do not want the State of Ohio to kill in my name!

See you along the Trail.

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6 June execution date in Ohio

The State of Ohio is scheduled to execute Abdul Awkal on 6 June. Awkal was convicted in 1992 for the murders of his wife, Latife Awkal, and his brother-in-law, Mahmoud Abdul-Aziz. The murders took place inside the courthouse on Lakeside Avenue in Cleveland.

The Awkals were scheduled for a meeting on 7 January 1992 in the family conciliation services office of the Domestic Relations Court over custody of their 15-month old daughter. Latife Awkal had filed for divorce from her husband.

For some reason or reasons, the situation took a violent turn. Awkal shot and killed his sister and brother-in-law. He then tried to flee with his daughter before a sheriff’s deputy shot and wounded him.

There appears little doubt of Awkal’s guilt. There appears no doubt. Guilt is not the question. The question is responsibility. Awkal has a long, well-documented history of severe mental illness that predates to before the murders. One source describes his illness as “a severe depressive/delusional disorder that results in audio and visual hallucinations, delusions of grandiose and paranoid themes, and suicide attempts.” Does that matter? While different courts have taken different views of the impact of his mental illness and his mental competence at different times, I believe there exists a reasonable doubt as to his level of responsibility.

On Friday 18 May, the parole board in Ohio recommended to the governor that he not grant clemency to Awkal. One member dissented from the decision.

I grieve for Latife and Mahmoud. I grieve for a child who lost one parent to death and another to incarceration. The use of violence in a courthouse and before an effort at reconciliation disturbs me greatly. I give thanks for the actions of the law enforcement officer who may well have prevented a greater loss of life. Nothing justifies Awkal’s actions. Nothing minimizes their brutality. And yet …

What is gained by the execution of Abdul Awkal? It does not bring his wife and brother-in-law back. It does not make our society any safer than we would be if Awkal remained in prison for life. It would be an act of revenge – an act of violence – that further dehumanizes our society. Can we not do better?

See you along the Trail.

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Stay in Ohio, commutation in Delaware

This post comes late.

In no way do I condone the crimes. The crimes appall me. But I am grateful that two executions scheduled for this week did not take place.

Stay in Ohio

The Columbus Dispatch reported on January 11:

U.S. District Judge Gregory Frost today blocked next week’s scheduled execution of convicted murderer Charles Lorraine because the state has not adhered to its own execution policies.

Lorraine, 45, was slated to be executed Jan. 18 for murdering 80-year-old, bedridden Doris Montgomery and her 77-year-old husband, Raymond, in 1986.

Ohio will appeal the decision to the United States Supreme Court.

Given the age of the Montgomerys, their efforts to reach out to Lorraine, and the brutality of their murder, I have no sympathy for him. I grieve for the Montgomerys and those who love them. But I do not believe that his execution resolves anything; I believe it would diminish us all.

Commutation in Delaware 

On January 17, News.Delaware.Gov posted the following statement from Governor Jack Martell:

Pursuant to my authority under Article VII, Section 1 of the Delaware Constitution, I have decided to commute the sentence of Robert Gattis to life in prison without the possibility of parole, subject to the conditions set forth below.

I realize my decision may cause pain to the family and friends of Shirley Slay. For that, I deeply apologize.

In reaching this conclusion, I give great weight to the decision of the Board of Pardons. In the exercise of its constitutional duties, the Board thoroughly reviewed Mr. Gattis’s application for clemency and the State’s response. The Board studied the entire historical record of this case, carefully listened to the statements made by parties on both sides, and had the opportunity to look Mr. Gattis in the eyes and question him. Having done so, the Board took the unusual and perhaps historic step of recommending, by a 4-1 margin, that Mr. Gattis’s death sentence be commuted to life without parole. I take the Board’s considered decision seriously.

Governor Markell added some conditions to the commutation:

That is why I have conditioned Mr. Gattis’s commutation on the following: (1) Mr. Gattis shall forever drop all legal challenges to his conviction and sentence, as commuted; (2) Mr. Gattis shall forever waive any right to present a future commutation or pardon request and agree to live out his natural life in the custody of the Department of Correction; (3) Mr. Gattis will be housed in the Maximum Security Unit of the James T. Vaughn Correction Center for the remainder of his natural life, unless constitutionally required medical care is necessary; and (4) Mr. Gattis, after consultation with counsel, shall knowingly, willingly and voluntarily accept these conditions, as determined by the Superior Court.

In agreeing, Gattis gives up his rights to all appeals. According to Governor Markell, this means that “Ms. Slay’s loved ones can at least know that they will never have to go through the painful process again of trials, hearings or requests for release.” I wonder if this can serve as a model in future situations?

The execution of Robert Gattis was scheduled for January 20. He stands convicted of the murder of his former girlfriend. A number of factors, including sexual, physical, and psychological abuse that Gattis endured as a child, entered into this decision. I grieve for I sent my thanks to Governor Markell. You can do the same.

Next scheduled execution

Attention now returns to Georgia which has scheduled the execution of Nicholas Tate for January 31. Tate stands convicted of the 2001 killing of Chrissie Williams and her 3-year-old daughter Katelyn.

Tate has not challenged or appealed his conviction – essentially asking the State to help him commit suicide.

I grieve for Chrissie and Katelyn and those who love them. I shudder at the brutality which can violate and kill a child.

Yet, I do not believe that the State should kill – even those who commit such heinous acts – even those who, at least apparently, go to their death willingly. And so I ask Georgia to choose life.

See you along the Trail.

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