Condemned Ohio killer blames attack on 'homosexual panic'


COLUMBUS (AP) — A condemned killer is asking the Ohio Parole Board for mercy, saying he experienced a "homosexual panic" of self-revulsion before killing a man he picked up at a bar more than 30 years ago.

Death row inmate Robert Van Hook was sentenced to die for fatally strangling and stabbing David Self in Cincinnati in 1985. Van Hook fled to Florida, where he was arrested and confessed.

At the time of the killing, Van Hook was suffering from long-term effects of untreated mental, physical and sexual abuse as a child and was depressed that his life seemed to be falling apart, his attorneys argue.

He also was "troubled by increasing questions about his own sexual identity," his federal public defenders said in a May 17 filing with the parole board.

They also said he was improperly questioned by a Cincinnati police detective after he was arrested in Florida, and should have been provided an attorney.

The parole board heard arguments beginning this morning for and against Van Hook's clemency request. Republican Gov. John Kasich has the final say. Van Hook's execution is set for July 18.

Prosecutors dismiss Van Hook's "panic" claim as nonsense, saying he made a practice of luring gay men to apartments to rob them.

"This is a man who had cynically manipulated homosexuals for years. He posed as a gay; he frequented bars that were gay and he preyed on vulnerable victims who were gay," the Hamilton County prosecutor's office said in a Tuesday filing with the board.

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