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WARREN Appeals continue for murderer of boy, 12



Published: Wed, May 1, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The defendant has been on death row since 1986. A 3-judge panel sentenced him to death.

By PEGGY SINKOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- It's been 17 years, and Miriam Fife is still waiting for appeals to end for her son's killer.

It may not be much longer.

Fife and several friends were in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati today to hear Danny Lee Hill's latest appeal.

Hill was convicted for the Sept. 10, 1985, murder of Fife's 12-year-son, Raymond, of Warren.

A three-judge panel will hear the appeal. Court officials said they do not know how long it will take for the judges to rule.

If the federal circuit court denies Hill's appeal, he will only have one left -- an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

If the high court also denies the appeal, an execution date would be set for Hill, Fife said.

"I know we are getting to the end, but I also know it won't be quick," Fife said. "I'm not sure how long it will take this court to make a decision, and then if he does appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, that is another year, so I probably have two more years at least."

About the crimes

Hill, 35, has been on death row since 1986 when a three-judge panel sentenced him to death. Hill was found guilty of aggravated murder, kidnapping, rape, aggravated arson and felonious assault.

"I'm just hoping that the judges will uphold his conviction," Fife said.

Hill's co-defendant, Tim Combs, who was 17 at the time, was sentenced to 46 years to life in prison. Combs was not eligible for the death penalty because he was a minor.

Hill has had several appeals denied; the latest in 2000 by the state's 11th District Court of Appeals in Warren.

Hill contends he was denied effective assistance of appellate counsel in his 1989 appeal.

Judge Donald R. Ford wrote in a 20-page opinion that Hill failed to prove that.

sinkovich@vindy.com




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