Daughter of man up for parole disputes accuracy of prosecutor’s arguments

By Ed Runyan



The daughter of a man convicted of a 1977 Warren murder and six counts of kidnapping in the 1993 Lucasville, Ohio, prison uprising says it’s time for him to be released on parole.

“My father has been gone 41 years. He is now 65. He is a great-grandfather, and we want him home ... to enjoy his golden years,” said Teletha Provitt of Columbus, daughter of Orson Wells, who was from Braceville Township.

Provitt contacted a Vindicator reporter to rebut things Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins said about her father in a letter Watkins wrote to the state parole board urging that he not be paroled. Wells’ hearing is Friday.

Wells shot to death Ted Wade, 20, and attempted to kill Mark A. Dukes, 18, in the Ebony Lounge on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard Southwest.

Wade was trying to protect Dukes at the time of the shooting, according to witness statements gathered by Warren police in 1977 and provided by Watkins.

Provitt challenges Watkins’ description of her father’s prison sentence as being “110 years to life.”

JoeEllen Smith, an Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction spokeswoman, said 110 years to life is correct in that Wells’ sentences for the murder and attempted murder add up to 20 years to life, and Wells received another 90 years in prison for the Lucasville uprising. All the sentences were to be served one after the other.

But Smith said an Ohio administrative rule caps the minimum part of murder sentence at 20 years. The maximum sentence for the kidnappings was 150 years.

Provitt also challenged Watkins’ characterization of her father as dangerous.

“Under no circumstances should [Wells] be unleashed on society at age 65,” Watkins said in his letter. “To do so would be a prescription for disaster.”

Provitt says her father “has rehabilitated. He is not the same person Mr. Watkins described from 1977.” She said to “go check his records.”

Watkins provided reporters prison records and pointed to a March 2013 incident.

A corrections officer reported hearing a confrontation between Wells and another inmate. The officer moved Wells from the group.

Then Wells told the officer, “Don’t you ever single me out” and refused to return to his unit. Wells then challenged the officer with “Or what, what are you going to do?” and took off his shirt, the report says.

The officer drew his pepper spray, and another officer assisted, apparently ending the confrontation.

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