Trumbull killer asks federal court for relief

YOUNGSTOWN — Having exhausted all appeals at the state level, a Trumbull County man who received the death penalty for the 2001 murder of his then-girlfriend’s ex-husband has turned to federal courts.

Nathaniel Jackson, 46, planned the murder of 57-year-old Robert Fingerhut with his then-girlfriend Donna Roberts with an eye toward $550,000 in insurance money, according to court documents.

Roberts provided Jackson with access to the Howland home she and Fingerhut shared, where Jackson shot the victim multiple times.

Both Roberts and Jackson received the death penalty. Roberts’ death sentence has been vacated twice.

Judge James S. Gwin, of U.S. District Court issued an order reopening a petition for habeas corpus filed by Jackson in 2008 now that he has exhausted remedies at the state level.

In 2010, the Ohio 11th District Court of Appeals vacated Jackson’s death sentence because an assistant prosecutor assisted the judge in writing his opinion. The trial court reimposed the death sentence in 2012.

The Ohio Supreme Court denied a direct appeal of that sentence in 2016 and an application to reopen that appeal in 2017.

The U.S. Supreme Court also denied a petition to hear Jackson’s case.

A memorandum in support of Jackson’s petition for habeas corpus argues on several grounds including a lack of effective assistance by Jackson’s public defender and prosecutorial misconduct.

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