By Marc Kovac
Raymond Montgomery was a 77-year-old retired steel worker who earned Bronze Stars for his service in World War II.
He was caring for his 80-year-old wife, Doris, in their Warren home. She was confined to a bed in the living room, afflicted by arthritis and other ailments that prevented her from moving around on her own.
In May of 1986, the two were brutally murdered by Charles Lorraine, succumbing to multiple stab wounds from a 10-inch butcher knife. Lorraine then ransacked the home, taking money and valuables and later using the ill-gotten gain to buy a round of drinks at a local bar.
“It’s just not right,” said Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins, showing members of the state parole board gruesome images of the murder victims taken at the scene 25 years ago. “These folks did not have a chance. ... The thinking of this man, the premeditation, the audacity.”
Lorraine faces lethal injection at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility on Jan. 18 because of the crime. He’s asked the state parole board to grant him clemency and allow him to live out his life behind bars.
That board will issue its recommendation on Dec. 21. Gov. John Kasich will have the final say on whether to grant clemency or allow Lorraine’s execution to take place as scheduled.
Lorraine had done odd jobs for the Montgomerys and was purportedly stealing money from them before killing the couple. He admitted the crime to police and was subsequently convicted on multiple counts of aggravated murder.
Public defenders told the parole board Tuesday that Lorraine’s “brain didn’t work right,” that he experienced a traumatic and abusive childhood and that he was convicted and sentenced to death after an ineffective defense by legal counsel.
Lorraine’s brother and sister described a horrific family life, with a father who was addicted to drugs and sexually abused his oldest daughter and an “evil” mother who would beat her children and was more interested in playing bingo than in her kids’ medical needs.
Lorraine and his siblings were forced to work, steal or find other ways to get money for their parents.
Cathy Brewer, Lorraine’s oldest sister, said in recorded comments to the parole board that Lorraine started drinking and doing drugs as a child, with their parents’ knowledge and, at times, their participation.
“Some pet owners treat their animals better than Charles and his siblings were treated,” said Aracelis Rivera, a clinical psychologist who evaluated Lorraine. “Charles and his siblings were severely abused. ... There was no intervention. There was no Children Services. There was no police.”
Jeffrey Madden, a neuropsychologist at Ohio State University who met with Lorraine in late November, said there was evidence that the inmate had an acquired brain injury, possibly from falling out of a car or off of a roof or being beaten by a gang — all incidents that Lorraine has recounted.
“He’s not mentally retarded,” Madden said. “We could say that he has some limited abilities. ... His memory is scrambled. ... Mr. Lorraine has had a lifetime of cognitive barriers to independent adult function.”
Ken Murray, who was one of three public defenders working with Lorraine during his initial trial, said the case was his first involving capital punishment, and he acknowledged shortcomings in his defense, which he at one point described as “inept.”
He also said it was difficult to interact with Lorraine.
“It was a struggle to communicate with him,” Murray said in a recording presented to the parole board. He added, “It was like working with a 5-year-old or a 10-year-old at times. And sometimes it was even worse. He would blurt things out that he didn’t even understand when we asked him.”
But prosecutors said legal counsel and expert witnesses called during Lorraine’s trial and subsequent legal proceedings presented comparable information about the inmate’s cognitive abilities and upbringing that was presented during Tuesday’s clemency hearing.
“This, in my opinion, was a well-tried case,” Watkins said. “He got a fair trail and he had effective representation. ... There’s never been any better defense in any of my [death penalty] cases. ... He had more experts than most death-penalty cases get.”
Watkins called Lorraine a con artist with a long history of anti-social and criminal behavior who has lied and exaggerated to avoid the death penalty.
“I know Chuckie Lorraine,” he said, adding later, “I believe he is the worst of the worst.”
Lynda Couch, a great- niece who found the murdered couple the next day, asked the parole board to allow the execution to take place.
“I think it’s time to have closure,” she said.