By Marc Kovac
Gov. John Kasich has denied clemency to the death row inmate facing execution next week for the brutal murder of an Akron woman 15 years ago.
Barring last-minute court intervention, Bret Hartman will be put to death Tuesday at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville.
Kasich’s decision was in line with the unanimous recommendation of the state parole board, which last month, for the third time in recent years, said Hartman deserved the death penalty for the crime.
Hartman was convicted of murdering 46-year-old Winda Snipes in September 1997, stabbing her more than 130 times, slitting her throat and cutting off her hands. The latter never were found.
Evidence used in the conviction included DNA taken from Snipes’ body, fingerprints at the scene and a bloody T-shirt and woman’s watch found at Hartman’s apartment.
Additionally, a cellmate and former co-worker testified that Hartman had made incriminating comments.
But Hartman, who admitted having sexual relations with the victim hours before her death, has maintained his innocence, saying fingerprints and hair found at the crime scene and phone records prove he did not commit murder.
“My heart goes out to [Snipes’ family],” Hartman told the Statehouse Bureau of Dix Newspapers and The Vindicator during a death row interview last month. “I know losing anyone, especially family, is a very traumatizing experience. I recently lost my mom and my sister. And no one in the world deserves to lose a relative or anyone the way that Winda was taken, and my heart goes out to them. But I didn’t do it.”
But the parole board and Kasich were not swayed by his claims of innocence.
“The overwhelming evidence presented during trial clearly established that Hartman is guilty of this crime,” the parole board wrote. “Hartman shows no remorse and continues to claim his innocence despite the evidence indicating his guilt.”