YOUNGSTOWN -- A city man on Ohio's death row has been granted a reprieve by the Ohio Supreme Court.
Willie S. Herring, 24, was scheduled to be executed next month for his role in a bloody robbery at the Newport Inn in April 1996.
He was convicted by a Mahoning County Common Pleas Court jury in 1998 of multiple counts of aggravated murder, attempted aggravated murder and complicity to aggravated murder.
The high court upheld the death sentence in February and ordered that the execution be carried out in May. But Chief Justice Thomas Moyer granted a stay of execution this week so Herring can appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court for a reversal of his conviction and sentence.
"Obviously we will vehemently oppose that," said county Prosecutor Paul Gains.
Herring was one of five men convicted in the Newport Inn robbery, but was the only one sentenced to death. Because of that, his lawyers appealed on the grounds that the penalty was disproportionate in comparison with the others.
But the Ohio Supreme Court ruled in February that Herring was clearly the ringleader of the gang that burst into the bar, robbed the cash register and opened fire on its patrons and employees. Three people were killed and at least two were seriously injured.