Prosecutor urges Ohio attorney general to appeal Danny Hill ruling


Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins has sent a letter urging Ohio Attorney Mike DeWine to appeal the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals decision that ordered a judge to resentence Danny Lee Hill to something other than the death penalty.

Hill, 51, was sentenced to death in 1986 in the 1985 murder of Raymond Fife, 12. The sentence was upheld through numerous appeals and also when visiting Judge Thomas Curran considered whether Hill was too mentally disabled to qualify for the death penalty.

But three judges on the 6th Circuit recently disagreed with whether Hill is too mentally disabled to be executed.

In the letter, Watkins called that “an improper substitution of the Sixth Circuit’s view of the law and facts.”

Watkins said Fife’s murder was “one of the worst murders in Trumbull County history. Everyone in the Mahoning Valley who remembers 1985 will will never forget the smiling face of Little Raymond.”

Miriam Fife, Raymond’s mother, “has been at every court proceeding since her son Raymond was kidnapped, tortured, raped and murdered on Sept. 12, 1985,” including the hearings before the 6th Circuit, Watkins said.

Watkins, who has spoken with several representatives of the attorney general’s office about the case since the ruling, quoted statistics showing the number of times the 6th Circuit has been overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, including cases in which the death penalty was reinstated.

He said the 6th Circuit wrongly reversed state court rulings in 19 of 24 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court between 2012 and 2016.

“The victim’s family and the citizens of Trumbull County should not at this time be faced with Danny Lee Hill being brought back to a Trumbull County courtroom for resentencing when it is unnecessary and for the wrong reason,” Watkins wrote.

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