By Marc Kovac
The state parole board says Charles Lorraine of Warren, on death row for the brutal murder of an elderly couple 25 years ago, should be executed next month as scheduled.
The panel released its recommendation Wednesday morning after considering the clemency request from Lorraine. In the unanimous decision, members said the inmate should face lethal injection Jan. 18.
“It is obvious from the facts of this case that Lorraine targeted this elderly couple because they were vulnerable,” the parole board wrote. “He gained their trust and then used this same trust as a means to enter their home, only to slaughter them and steal their valuables. He shared with the board during his interview that he knew in advance that he was going to kill the victims. Unfortunately, to this day, he cannot explain why he committed these violent acts.”
Lorraine was sentenced to death for the May 1986 knifing deaths of Raymond and Doris Montgomery, the latter confined to a bed at the time of the killing. Lorraine stabbed both multiple times before ransacking their Warren home and using the money and personal items he stole to buy drinks for friends at a bar.
Lorraine had done odd jobs for the Montgomerys and was 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 have argued that Lorraine displays evidence of a traumatic brain injury that has affected his thinking abilities and judgment. They also say his original legal counsel provided an “inept” defense that led to the death penalty over a lengthy prison sentence.
Additionally, Lorraine’s brother and sister described to the parole board their horrific upbringing, 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 and other needs.
But prosecutors argued during a clemency hearing earlier this month that legal counsel and expert witnesses called during Lorraine’s trial, and subsequent legal proceedings, presented all pertinent information about the inmate’s cognitive abilities and upbringing.
Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis 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.
In its decision Wednesday, the parole board outlined Lorraine’s lengthy criminal record, starting when he was 14. Members also reviewed numerous disciplinary issues since he entered death row, including throwing human waste at another inmate and setting a sheet and newspaper on fire.
The parole board concluded that there was no question of Lorraine’s guilt in the murders, that he received a fair trial, that his five brothers and sisters have managed “relatively crime-free lives” despite their difficult childhoods, and that he was not mentally retarded, as was argued as part of an earlier appeal.
“Additional testimony presented at the clemency hearing as to his dysfunctional childhood and brain injury do not outweigh the aggravating factors in this case,” the parole board wrote. “This was a brutal slaying of two vulnerable victims in their own home. A sentence short of the jury’s finding of death and the court’s imposed death sentence would demean the seriousness of this offense.”