High court hears Donna Roberts death appeal on Feb. 7


The state’s high court has set a date for the next round of oral arguments for the lone woman on Ohio’s Death Row.

Donna Marie Roberts, convicted in the 2001 murder-for-hire of her former husband in Trumbull County, will have her case heard by the Ohio Supreme Court on Feb. 7. It’s the first case of three scheduled for that day, with each side allotted a half an hour for their arguments.

Roberts is asking justices to “reverse the sentence of death and find a life sentence to be appropriate,” according to documents.

This will be the third time the Supreme Court has heard the case, with justices remanding it on two other occasions.

According to documents, Roberts and her then-boyfriend Nathaniel Jackson planned the murder of 57-year-old Robert Fingerhut for months, hoping to collect more than half a million dollars in insurance money. Roberts provided Jackson with access to the Howland home she and Fingerhut shared, and Jackson shot the victim multiple times.

Both Roberts and Jackson received death sentences but were later ordered to be re-sentenced after it was determined that the prosecutor’s office assisted in writing the original opinion in the case.

Justices affirmed Jackson’s death sentence earlier this year, with a majority justices ruling that the penalty was “both appropriate and proportionate when compared with capital cases involving aggravated murder during an aggravated murder.”

During her earlier case before the Supreme Court, Roberts argued that the trial judge should have considered head injuries, her history of depression and other mitigating factors before again issuing the ultimate penalty for her role the murder.

A majority of justices agreed, noting that a new trial court entry “failed to mention any of the information provided by Roberts” as part of the first resentencing process. They remanded her case for further consideration in 2013.

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