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A date with the executioner



Published: Sat, March 30, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

COLUMBUS

Steven T. Smith has been sitting on Ohio’s death row for more than a dozen years, convicted of the heinous murder of a six-month-old baby girl, the details of which will send chills down the spine of any normal person.

His case is before the state parole board next week. Barring a clemency decision by Gov. John Kasich, he’ll face lethal injection May 1.

Smith is one of 12 Ohio inmates with execution dates. The latest was added to that list this week, Alva Earl Campbell Jr., convicted of murdering an 18-year-old man he had carjacked at a Columbus-area Kmart while fleeing from the law.

Ugly stuff

It’s ugly stuff, and you can read all about it in the Ohio attorney general’s annual Capital Crimes report.

The new edition was released late last month and outlines the administration of the death penalty in Ohio, pending legal challenges before state and federal courts, and thumbnail sketches of the 140-plus people on death row.

You can find out about the constitutional issues with the ultimate in criminal penalties, from the U.S. Supreme Court decisions of the 1970s to the procedural changes and restart of the late 1990s and the resulting 316 death sentences issued since 1981.

You can learn why Ohio uses a single-drug lethal injection instead of other means (electrocution was eliminated in 2001).

You can better understand DNA testing and mental retardation claims and other legal arguments used to block executions for some inmates.

You can wade through the lengthy state and federal court process that leaves convicted inmates on death row for years or decades before their sentences are carried out.

You can read the names of the 50 Ohio inmates who have been executed since 1999, most recently Frederick Treesh early last month.

Clemency

You can see the lists of inmates who received clemency, including the four most recent examples of commutations handed down by Kasich, and those who died before their executions could take place.

The demographic information paints a picture of the inmates who have been put to death — 31 white and 19 black men, average age of 45, who spent an average of 16-plus years on the row.

The demographic information also paints a picture of the people they needlessly killed — 62 adults, 18 children, more than half women and two-thirds white.

And there are the crimes themselves, with brief descriptions of all of the brutal murders committed by Ohio’s deathrow inmates. The thumbnail sketches are brief and without a lot of detail but are still hard to stomach.

It’s not light and easy reading, but it’s something that merits your attention, particularly if you’re going to take a vocal stance for or against capital punishment.

You’ll find a copy on line at www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Media/Reports.

Marc Kovac is The Vindicator’s Statehouse correspondent. Email him at mkovac@dixcom.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.


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