Trumbull prosecutor argues against parole for two killers in their 60s
By Ed Runyan
Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins is opposing parole for Orson Wells, 65, who went to prison in 1977 for killing Ted Wade and attempting to kill Mark A. Dukes in a tavern on Martin Luther King Boulevard Southwest. Wells also was convicted of his role in the 1994 Lucasville prison riot.
Watkins was one of the prosecutors who handled the Wells murder case more than 40 years ago.
“As one of the actual prosecutors in the murder case against Wells. ... I am very familiar with him and his long criminal history, including his violent crimes committed during the Lucasville riot,” Watkins told the parole board in a 2015 letter.
Wells comes up for a parole hearing this month.
“His total sentence is 110 years to life,” Watkins said in a letter last week. “Under no circumstances should this man be unleashed on society at age 65. To do so would be a prescription for disaster.”
In addition to Wells’ murder and attempted-murder convictions in Trumbull County and an earlier felonious assault and robbery in Mahoning County, Wells was convicted of six counts of kidnapping in the prison riot, Watkins said.
Wade, 20, was a Youngstown State University student and football player when he was killed March 16, 1977, at the Ebony Lounge, according to Watkins and Vindicator files. Dukes was 18, and Wells was 24.
Wade “was attempting to be a peacemaker in an argument between Dukes and Wells when he was murdered,” Watkins said.
“What is still puzzling me to this day is why Wells, at 6-feet-4 and over 250 pounds, would need to use a gun against two young men who didn’t weigh 150 pounds each,” Watkins said.
Wells’ attorney argued during the trial that Wells was a “victim of his Braceville-area environment.” He admitted that Wells had shot the two but said it was self-defense.
In a separate case, Watkins is asking that parole be denied this month to Roy G. Green, 66, who was convicted in 1995 of murder, abuse of a corpse and receiving stolen property and sentenced to 18 years to life in prison.
Green killed and dismembered Devin Griffin in December 1994 in Green’s garage on Bellcrest Avenue Southwest in Warren Township, said Watkins, who also personally prosecuted Green.
“Green’s release on parole now at age 66 would, in my opinion, present a clear and present danger to the community,” Watkins said in a letter last week.
The last time Green was eligible for parole in 2008, Watkins described Green’s crimes to the parole board. Watkins said after Green pointed a shotgun at Griffin, Green’s son, Roy G. Morgan III, went into the house. Morgan said he heard two shots, then Green walked into the house and told his son: “Don’t tell a madman to kill you because he will,” Watkins wrote.
The next morning, Green woke up his son and had him help move garbage bags that were in tubs. They drove to a small lake called Brickyard Pond, and they threw the bags into the pond, which was partially frozen, Watkins said. A human hand came out of one of the bags and stayed on the surface of the thin ice, Watkins said.