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UPDATE: Strickland grants clemency to Cornwell

Published: Mon, November 15, 2010 @ 10:00 a.m.

COLUMBUS — Gov. Ted Strickland has granted clemency to Sidney Cornwell, the man who was facing execution for the 1996 gang-related killing of a Youngstown toddler.

Strickland's decision, shifting Cornwell’s sentence to life in prison without parole, goes against the 7-1 recommendation of the state parole board, whose members believed the execution should move ahead on Tuesday morning as scheduled.

Cornwell was to be transported to the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville this morning. But prisons officials were notified Sunday to stop the transfer, and Cornwell remained at the Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown.

Cornwell was convicted of killing 3-year-old Jessica Ballew in an early-morning shooting in June 1996.

According to court documents, he and others drove up to an apartment on Oak Park Lane with the intention of shooting a rival, in retaliation for an earlier incident between neighborhood gangs.

After learning that the intended victim was not at the residence, Cornwell opened fire, killing Ballew and injuring three adults.

As part of the clemency process, public defenders argued that Cornwell grew up abused and suffered from an undiagnosed testosterone deficiency and genetic condition that played a role in his gang involvement and violent tendencies.

They also said Cornwell's punishment was disproportionate to sentences handed out for other killings in Mahoning County, and that the jury did not have the option of giving him a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

But Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul Gains countered during the clemency hearing that Cornwell was aware of his actions and continues to deny full responsibility for his gang involvement.

Gains also downplayed claims that the killing was an accident, saying Cornwell had to have seen Jessica Ballew in the doorway — there were only a few feet between the car and the residence from the narrow alleyway where the shooting took place.

And he and legal counsel from the Attorney General's Office questioned arguments about Cornwell's upbringing, noting that his brother and sister did not turn to the life of gangs and crime that he chose.

The majority of parole board members, in their clemency decision last month, said the circumstances of the case support death as the appropriate sentence.

Board Chairwoman Cynthia Mausser offered the lone dissent in favor of clemency, noting that a diagnoses of a genetic disorder confirmed in Cornwell earlier this year may have affected whether the death sentence was issued.

"I cannot conclude that it would have made no difference to the outcome of the penalty phase, as it seems reasonably probable that a juror may have viewed Cornwell and the other mitigation evidence presented in a more positive light," Mausser wrote. "This evidence is significant enough to question the reliability of the outcome of the penalty phase and conclude that the exercise of executive clemency is warranted."


11970mach1(1005 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

Thankfully he is gone in a month.

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2slammindoor(5 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

Thank goodness you're out of here soon Strickland. No justice for an innocent child gunned down by yet another Youngstown gang member for whom our tax dollars will now pay to live. You are a fool and a prime example of why crime runs rampant.

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3NoBS(2841 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

What a disgusting miscarriage of justice.

I completely reject the rationalization that Cornwell grew up abused - so did millions of people who never murdered any 3-year-olds. He knew full well what he was doing. A genetic disorder - having low testosterone - responsible for his not knowing what he was doing? Absolute rubbish!!

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4Stan(9923 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

Why am I not surprised ?

The taking of Jessica Ballew's life means nothing to Strickland . The next step is for some liberal judge to set Cornwell free .

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5ValleyNative(174 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

Bye bye Teddy! Kasich wouldn't make this jabroni decision

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6AtownParent(565 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

Disgusting. What about that poor child? What about her parents? How could you deny them this justice? I am so glad I voted Strickland out. This just proves he no longer has the best interest of Ohio in mind.

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7onlyinohio(2 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

One more reason why Strickland needed to go. It wouldn't of happened if it had been his child.

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8redvert(2240 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

Come on now, can't one of you that voted for this clown stand up in his defense? Kind of a embarrassment to the democratic party isn't he?

Truth is that there are probably as many democrats as republicans reading this article that are disgusted with his decision!

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91970mach1(1005 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

Teddy's true colors shining through. Just like when lame duck Dick Celeste commuted death sentences.

This just shows how manipulative and disgusting Strickland is. What kind of killing would deserve the death penalty if not the killing of a 3 year old.

BUT, because Teddy no longer needs the votes after he got bounced from office ,he follows his heart 9bleeding heart) to spare the thug killer.

NOTE TO PROSECUTORS: ASK for delays in any other death penalty cases until after Ted the Red is gone so he doesn't get tempted to start passing out more freebies..

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10Lifes2Short(3882 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

Thank God hes leaving office. What a depressing day for the victims family. This monster can still enjoy life, be it in prison, but still alive. Useless animal.
What a lame excuse, his upbringing, that is so pitiful and a cop out. This cockroach should just kill himself like he killed a INNOCENT child. No reason this animal should be breathing.

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11300(573 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

I find it ironic that you're all criticizing Strickland for being a Christian.

I'm an Atheist, so I've got no problem supporting the death penalty and abortion. But, if you're a Christian you CANNOT support the death penalty anymore than you can support abortion. But, if you do support the death penalty, come on over to my side, we need more non-Christians in this country.

Even though I disagree Strickland on this, I give him credit for not being a hypocrite.

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12Stan(9923 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago


COLUMBUS, Ohio -- An inmate caught consuming alcohol at the governor's residence drank so heavily he couldn't remember whether he had six beers or an entire bottle of wine or liquor, according to an investigative report obtained by The Associated Press.

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13Realist(62 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

What a great point 300

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14Lifes2Short(3882 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago


"But, if you're a Christian you CANNOT support the death penalty anymore than you can support abortion."

Here we go again. You can be a Christian AND support the death penalty.

“Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man” (Genesis 9:6).

God has never revoked the death penalty. Jesus said He did not come to destroy the law, but to fulfil it (Matthew 5:17). And the Apostle Paul preached about the government's right to invoke capital punishment on evildoers (Romans 13:1-5).

And would you feel the same way if that was your INNOCENT 3 year old daughter that was MURDERED in cold blood?

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15Stan(9923 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago



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16steelers_fan(23 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

I am a Christian and I support the death penalty, especially for people like this.
I also voted for Strickland, but definitley do not agree with this latest decision.

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17300(573 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

No you can't. You can call yourself a Christian, but the truth is that you aren't really one. You don't pick and choose what you like about a religion, and then live only by what you like. I was confirmed into the Church, but I disagreed with nearly every belief it had except for helping the indigent. Thus, I left, and no longer consider myself to be Christian. It's the only non-hypocritical thing to do in such a situation.

I brought this up because I've noticed how many of those criticizing are the same ones going on about being Christian in other posts. No proper Christian church supports either abortion or the death penalty, this is a fact that is indisputable.

I think this guy deserves to be dead, and I don't like it when personal religion sways a public official's decisions (as I'm sure it did in this case).

And, really? world net daily? I know that Christians aren't always the sharpest tools in the shed, but that's new low. Jerome Corsi's certainly not a Christian, no matter how much he may disagree; look at his past.

Some people deserve to die, like this guy, and a fetus isn't a human being that can live independently. I'm honest in my views, many of you aren't so much.

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18300(573 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

And censorhsip, don't call me Shirley!

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19unclebill(23 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

That decision should be a good deterant to crime. Good bye Gov

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20sonnype(107 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

Although I dont agree with the governors decission.It amazes me that some of the post critize him for being a liberal and soft on crime.More people have been put to death in his 4 years than under Bob Tafts administration.This is the first time that Strictland has granted clemency

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21Woody(493 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

One has to wonder, it seemed like Ohio was executing a person once a month for the last year or two. Have to wonder if Teddy was doing it to score political points?

As for Christian religions that support the death penalty:

And this man:
"God will not tolerate sin. He condemns it and demands payment for it. God could not remain a righteous God and compromise with sin. His holiness and His justice demand the death penalty."

Apr. 2007 - Billy Graham

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22Cowboyfan(105 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

They should not let him make any decisions for the next couple months so he does not sabotage our State. Letting a child murderer go in inexcusable.

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23300(573 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

Southern Baptists and Mormons aren't historically Christian, they were both created relatively recently. Both are miscellaneous religions, not any proper Christian variety. Mormons an insane bunch no one wanted, and Southern Baptists are.....Southern, that just about sums up how credible they are.

As for Lutheranism, maybe they do. I'm not a theologian, but at least that's an actual form Christianity.

The point remains the same, you can't be a true Christian and support the death penalty. It doesn't work that way. Maybe you're spiritual and support the death penalty, but you can't label yourself Christian and do so.

It's really not that bad not being Christian. Since I rejected Christianity nothing catastrophic has happened. In fact, not much of anything changed. The truth is that most of you represent the Romans much more than you do the Christians, you just changed your labels.

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24Woody(493 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago


My fault, I didn't realize you were the arbitor of who is Christian and who is not.

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25crissylea45(1 comment)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

This decision is another example of why the Republicans have been swept into office. Thank God he was voted out of office. I'd love to ask Ted Strickland how he would feel if his own innocent, 3 year old child was senselessly gunned down. His decision is as criminal as if he had pulled the trigger and killed little Jessica himself. WHERE IS THE JUSTICE TED?????

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26Stan(9923 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

Jessica Ballew being alive would have brought us joy . Sidney Cornwell living on to die of old age just doesn't give a feeling that can be described as joy .

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27Traveler(606 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

@ 300
if Southern Baptists and Mormons are miscellaneous religions, not any proper Christian variety
So what do you got to be to be a proper Christian.
Southern Baptists are.....Southern, that just about sums up how credible they are.
Do you hate southern people in general or only the ones that don't agree with you.

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28oldmill(16 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
Thomas Jefferson

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29mrblue(1175 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

How can you let a child killer live? There is no justice in this case. Ted-----I sure hope you will be able to sleep nights----you idiot!!

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30redvert(2240 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

Maybe this idiot in Mt. Vernon that is suspected of possibly killing three people should confess on condition that he get tried and sentenced in the next 30 days so a-hole can commute his sentence also!

Maybe Strickland will get his due in time!

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31Stan(9923 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

Reaching out for justice but getting none .


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32Stan(9923 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago



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33leftyompton4life(79 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

Its true this guy is basically getting away with it. He gets 3 meals a day,gets to read books,think,relax,and basically just hang out....he is just another Youngstown mutant....

"As part of the clemency process, public defenders argued that Cornwell grew up abused and suffered from an undiagnosed testosterone deficiency and genetic condition that played a role in his gang involvement and violent tendencies."

Here is my diagnoses: You're f'n useless. You serve no purpose to life. You're the worst type of person out there and you deserve no respect or forgiveness from anyone...I honestly hope someone slits your throat in jail because you deserve the same brutality that you bestowed upon somene else....

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34TomSailor(2 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

I hear a lot of people's anger (understandable) on here but no one wants to seem to want to engage in a conversation on how we can prevent things like this from happening in our community...why is that? Wouldn't that be a better way to remember Jessica rather than killing another human being???? Maybe this is Jessica's way of trying to change the world????

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35candystriper(575 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

show some compassion...help carry Stricklands bags to the curb.

Bon Voyage, saboteur!

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36Lifes2Short(3882 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago


The definiton of a real Christian is as follows:

A Christian is someone who has decided to entrust his or her life to Jesus Christ.

Christ makes a Christian a Christian. Going to church does not make a person a Christian. A special ceremony can't do it. And nobody can be a Christian by trying to be a good person. Only Jesus Christ can make a person a Christian:

John 1:12,13 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

That is straight and right to the point. I consider myself a "born again" Christian without a affiliate of a church. I read all about other man-made religions and such and it all boils down to one thing. Jesus Christ. So you don't need to be a Catholic, Southern Baptist, Mormon, Lutheran and on and on to be a "real" Christian. It's one on one with Jesus.

I feel for the family.

Family of slain girl angry at Strickland for sparing life of her killer


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37YSUGRAD(134 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

We can only hope that the other cockroaches in the clink "take care of" this animal.

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38espnlooop(27 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

Typical liberal move.
Liberals like to kills the babies and spare the killers.
Converatives would rather spare the babies and get rid of the killers.

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39leland(2 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

Hurrdurr --- in your first posting you said executing Cornwell wasn't right because others who committed similar crimes hadn't been executed. I'm not sure that blanket statement is quite true. Even if it were, how could this ever be a justification begin with? What happened to "two wrongs don't make a right?" You have to come up with a better one than that.

Then in your next posting you rant on about Kasich, something that has entirely nothing to do with the issue. Could it be that as a diehard support of the governor, not he does could ever be wrong?

Can't you just come out and say you are against the dead penalty,..period? At least that's a position, not the weak justifications you try to posit.

Any position other than yours is "just silly" as you stated, isn't it?

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40woolyd(579 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

Where was all this anger when Cherish Moreland, LaShanda Aziz, with baby in womb and the Crawford family was murdered?

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41bad(23 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

Once the election is over the new party should make major decisions like that and we all know what that would be.. Death Penalty upheld..NOTHING BUT OUT OF SPITE to the voters.What a crock of shi* I belive Strickland was a shrink for the prison system at one time. Bleeding hearted liberal who should have never been Governor in the first place along with that knucklehead Taft.. Come on Ohio you can do better.

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42Lifes2Short(3882 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago


Cherish Moreland

Because I don't think back in 2007, vindy.com had a comment section.



Crawford Family

This story is still ongoing.
And so far, I see alot of anger on the useless animal.




LaShanda Aziz

Not familiar with this case.

So not sure what your getting at?

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43woolyd(579 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

LIFE what I was getting at is after the trials there wasnt anger about the defendants not being sentenced to death. This also falls in line with a couple of the arguments Sidneys case was trying to point out. These were cases where children were knowingly present by the defendant and the defendant had them targeted as their victim. These were more heinous in the fact that kids were purposely killed in these cases. Sidney diddnt knowingly murder a child she was not the intended victim. Unfortunately his stupid decision ended her life but it just wasnt heinous in criminal terms.

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44Lifes2Short(3882 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago


"Sidney diddnt knowingly murder a child she was not the intended victim."

Murder is murder. And even worse being that it was a child.

"Unfortunately his stupid decision ended her life but it just wasnt heinous in criminal terms."

??? Any murder, crime is heinous. Whether it's a unborn baby or a 90 year old. Murder is murder and no reason whatsoever for it. It's sick and the prep should get a eye for a eye. Not really fair when the victim(s) is no longer on this earth.

And once again, it's a case by case, it's the jurors that decide what punishment fits the crime of that case, were as Sidney was given the death penalty, he should be put down not granted clemency.

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45Stan(9923 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

woolyd :

"Sidney diddnt knowingly murder a child "

Sidney aimed at and hit all of his targeted victims . You would have us believe that this was an accidental shooting . Strickland robbed Sidney of the opportunity to redeem himself .

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46woolyd(579 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

Accidental shooting no not at all. The killing of a child is a despicable act but certain other elements are what make it heinous in the eyes of the law. Dont blame me for trying to explain the elemental factors of the law blame the law. Davis knowingly killed an entire family by setting their house on fire in the early morning hours. Heinous element which he diddnt get death. Anthony Anderson and Kevin Calwise went into LaShawnda Aziz home tied her up knowing she was pregnant, tied up her kids, and then proceeded to shoot them execution style. Heinous element which neither received death. Damon Clark and Stoney Williams went to a home saw a child in the driveway and then proceeded to shoot her. Heinous element in which neither received death. With this being said these individuals all knew children were targets and the proceeded to put them in harms way. In Sidneys case it has never been proven he knew a kid was there. Im not saying he shouldnt have been executedthe fact is Strickland looked at all the elements and the arguments for clemency. Its the law and he followed it.

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47Lifes2Short(3882 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

Accidental shooting???? Theres no such thing as accidental shooting, when your shooting at a life your intent is to kill. Do you think it would have been alright if he killed the drug dealer he was looking for??
And as far as Davis, the question would be, did he think the fire would escalated as it did and did he really mean to kill them or just scare them? Alot of questions, were as Sidney admitted he killed the child, looking for a drug dealer.
And what facts did Strickland look at? Because of a technicality because the jury didn't have a choice at life in prison or death? Do you think that would have mattered?

Bottom line is murder is murder and it's wrong, and no reason for it, and the perp should be put to death on a clear cut case. Ex: Sidney,Davis,Houser,etc....

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48Stan(9923 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

woolyd :

OJ Simpson killed his white wife and was found not guilty of murder . So now any black can kill his white wife with no penalty ?

Sidney Cornwell guns down a white family of four and kills one . Since his death sentence was commuted now there should be no death penalty for gunning down white families ? Sidney seems to have a hatred of white people and it is ironic that a white governor save his arse from being executed .

My view is that when you kill out of hatred the death sentence should be automatic and swift . We owe these killers nothing be they black or white .

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