DeWine delays 2 executions
Ohio’s unofficial death penalty moratorium will continue past Gov. Mike DeWine’s first term, based on a pair of reprieves for the first two executions of 2023 that were announced Friday.
The news follows DeWine’s decision a week ago to postpone the remaining execution scheduled for this year, pushing the October date for Quisi Bryan, convicted of killing a Cleveland police officer, to early in 2026.
The state’s last execution was July 18, 2018, when Ohio put to death Robert Van Hook for killing a man he met in a bar in Cincinnati in 1985.
DeWine on Friday moved the execution of Antonio Franklin from Jan. 12 to Feb. 11, 2026. Franklin was sentenced to die for killing his grandparents and his uncle in Dayton in 1997.
DeWine also moved the execution of Stanley Fitzpatrick from Feb. 15 to April 16, 2026. Fitzpatrick was sentenced to die for killing his girlfriend, his girlfriend’s 12-year-old daughter, and a neighbor, in Hamilton County in 2001.
DeWine, a Republican, has attributed the need for the reprieves to the state’s ongoing inability to obtain drugs for lethal injection from pharmaceutical companies.
Nine men still are scheduled for execution next year though more reprieves are expected.
Meanwhile, Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins next week will be asking the Ohio Supreme Court for an execution date for Warren’s Danny Lee Hill. “I want one that’s sooner rather than later,” he said.
The U.S. Supreme Court voted 6-3 this week to uphold a U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decision — a ruling that upholds the death penalty sentence for Hill.
Hill sought to be removed from Ohio’s death row for the 1985 torture-killing of 12-year-old Raymond Fife in a field in Warren. He has been appealing the conviction for more than 30 years.
Hill was 19 at the time of the rape and murder, among other crimes committed upon the boy. It has been argued Hill had diminished mental capacity and was barely literate. Another defendant, Timothy Combs, a juvenile at the time, was ineligible for the death penalty and died in prison in 2018 while serving multiple life sentences.