Parole board recommends no mercy for killer

Associated Press


The Ohio Parole Board on Friday recommended against mercy for a death row inmate whose attorneys cite a history of physical and emotional abuse and untreated mental illness that led to him killing a man he picked up at a bar more than 30 years ago.

The board’s 8-1 decision came in the case of Robert Van Hook, sentenced to die for strangling and stabbing David Self in Cincinnati in 1985. Van Hook fled to Florida, where he was arrested and confessed.

Despite Van Hook’s tough childhood, he was shown love and support by relatives he stayed with for long periods as a child, the board said. But that positive influence doesn’t outweigh the “gratuitous violence” Van Hook demonstrated, the ruling said.

The board also expressed concern about Hook’s violent prison record, including a November 2017 attack on a fellow death row inmate that sent the prisoner to the hospital.

Arguments that Van Hook’s background led to his violent nature “is belied by his ability to largely refrain from violent behavior in the years leading up to the crime,” the board added.

Van Hook’s attorneys criticized the ruling, and in particular a finding that Van Hook’s service in the Army could have been an argument in favor of mercy only if it had led to his post-traumatic stress disorder.

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