Capital punishment in Ohio

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Capital punishment in Ohio is legal. Since 1885, a total of 393 individuals have been executed in the U.S. state of Ohio.[1] A total of 139 people (one woman and 138 men) are currently under a sentence of death in the state as of January 16, 2014.[2] The current method of execution in Ohio is lethal injection.


The jury does decide the sentence in capital cases. Jurors can vote for the death penalty, life without parole, or life with a 30 years or 25 years non-parole period. Clemency rests with the governor of Ohio, who receives a non-binding report from the Ohio Parole Board.

As in any other state, people who are under 18 at the time of commission of the capital crime[3] or mentally handicapped[4] are constitutionally precluded from being executed.

Locations and method[edit]

Executions in Ohio are currently performed at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville. Since January 2012, death row for the majority of male inmates is located at the Chillicothe Correctional Institution (CCI) in Chillicothe. A few high security male death row inmates are held at the Ohio State Penitentiary (OSP) in Youngstown. Condemned female inmates are housed at the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville and death row inmates with serious medical conditions are held at the Franklin Medical Center in Columbus.[5] Prior to this, most male death row inmates were held at OSP with a few being held at the Mansfield Correctional Institution in Mansfield. The move to CCI allows the units at OSP and Mansfield to be used to separate violent inmates from the general population and will provide increased security and reduce transportation costs to both the execution chamber at SOCF and to the Franklin Medical Center for inmate medical treatment.[5][6]

Prior to 1885, executions were carried out by hanging in the county where the crime was committed. The Northwest Territory's first criminal statutes,[7] also known as Marietta Code,[8] date from 1788, 15 years before Ohio's statehood in 1803. These statutes did not ensure yet any uniform means of execution, nor did they designate where the executions were to take place. The statutory change from 1815 had executions as to be carried out locally and required the local sheriff to be also the local executioner, and in his absence or in any case of him being impeded, the local coroner would have to substitute him.[9] That ordeal appears to be the first statewide attempt to ensure uniform means of execution and to designate where such executions were to take place, but it also appears to just turn into protocol and procedure by law a practice which had institutionalized even before Ohio's statehood in 1803.

In 1885, the legislature enacted a law that required executions to be carried out at the Ohio Penitentiary in Columbus by hanging,[10] and law handed the executioner's job to the penitentiary's warden.[11] This practice of naming the State Prison's warden executioner seems to have penetrated deeply into the 20th Century, as we can learn from the 1938 death sentence against Anna Marie Hahn.[12] In 1897 the gallows were replaced by the electric chair, which was considered to be a more technologically advanced and humane method of execution. Ohio also became the second state to use the electric chair. 28 hangings, and 315 electrocutions were carried out at the now defunct Ohio Penitentiary in Columbus from 1885 to 1963.

In November 2009, Ohio announced that it would only use a single drug for lethal injections, consisting of a single dose of Sodium thiopental, the first state to do so. The first single drug execution was that of Kenneth Biros, 51, on Tuesday, December 8, 2009. Biros was convicted of murdering 22-year-old Tami Engstrom near Masury, Ohio in 1991. Biros' counsel indicated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit that Biros' execution, given that it is the first of its kind, may amount to "human experimentation." Various appeals for clemency were ultimately denied. Ohio announced in January 2011 that it will change the drug used from sodium thiopental to pentobarbital, as the availability of sodium thiopental has become quite scarce. The first execution using pentobarbital, was that of Johnnie Baston, on March 10, 2011.[13]

On July 1, 2011, Lundbeck, the Danish pharmaceutical company that holds the sole license to manufacture pentobarbital in the United States, announced that its distributors would deny distribution of pentobarbital to U.S. prisons that carry out the death penalty by lethal injection. Ohio used up its supply of pentobarbital on September 25, 2013, with the execution of Harry Mitts Jr.[14] On January 16, 2014, Ohio executed Dennis McGuire who was convicted of raping and then murdering 22 year old Joy Stewart who was 30 week pregnant, became the first U.S. inmate to be executed with a combination of the drugs midazolam and hydromorphone.[14][15] The effects of this combination of drugs on the body are controversial and not well understood.[14][16] McGuire took 25 minutes to die, an unusually long time for an execution,[16] being among the longest since Ohio resumed capital punishment in 1999.[17]

Capital offenses[edit]

A charge of aggravated murder with death penalty specifications may occur with at least one of the following special circumstances:

  • The defendant knowingly created a grave risk of death for one or more persons in addition to the victim of the offense.
  • The murder was committed for pecuniary gain or pursuant to an agreement that the defendant would receive something of value.
  • The capital offense was committed by a person who is incarcerated, has escaped, is on probation, is in jail, or is under a sentence of imprisonment.
  • The offender in the commission of the offense, purposefully caused the death of another who was under thirteen years of age at the time of the commission of the offense and the defendant committed the offense with prior calculation and design.
  • The offense was the assassination of the president of the United States or person in line of succession to the presidency, or of the governor or lieutenant governor of this state, or of the president-elect or vice president-elect of the United States, or of the governor-elect of this state, or of a candidate for any of the foregoing offices.
  • The murder was committed against a witness in a criminal proceeding to prevent the witness from appearing, or for revenge.
  • The offense was committed while the offender was committing, attempting to commit, or fleeing immediately after committing or attempting to commit terrorism.

List of individuals executed since 1976[edit]

All of the following individuals have been executed for murder since the Furman decision. All 53 were executed by lethal injection. Notable persons executed in Ohio before the Furman decision include Anna Marie Hahn.

Name Date of Execution Victim Governor
1 Wilford Berry, Jr. February 19, 1999 Charles Mitroff Bob Taft
2 Jay D. Scott June 14, 2001 Vinnie M. Price
3 John William Byrd, Jr. February 19, 2002 Monte Tewksbury
4 Alton Coleman April 26, 2002 Tonnie Storey
Marlene Walters (sentenced to death in Indiana and Illinois)
5 Robert Anthony Buell September 24, 2002 Krista Harrison
6 Richard Edwin Fox February 12, 2003 Leslie Renae Keckler
7 David M. Brewer April 29, 2003 Sherry Byrne
8 Ernest Martin June 18, 2003 Robert Robinson
9 Lewis Williams, Jr. January 14, 2004 Leoma Chmielewski
10 John Glenn Roe February 3, 2004 Donette Crawford
11 William Dean Wickline March 30, 2004 Peggy Lerch
Christopher Lerch
12 William G. Zuern, Jr. June 8, 2004 Hamilton County Deputy Sheriff Phillip Pence
13 Stephen Allan Vrabel July 14, 2004 Susan Clemente
Lisa Clemente
14 Scott Andrew Mink July 20, 2004 William Mink
Sheila Mink
15 Adremy Dennis October 13, 2004 Kurt Kyle
16 William Smith March 8, 2005 Mary Bradford
17 Herman Dale Ashworth September 27, 2005 Daniel L. Baker
18 William James "Flip" Williams, Jr. October 25, 2005 William Dent
Alfonda R. Madison, Sr.
Eric Howard and Theodore Wynn, Jr.
19 John R. Hicks November 29, 2005 Brandy Green
20 Glenn Lee Benner II February 7, 2006 Trina Bowser
Cynthia Sedgwick
21 Joseph Lewis Clark May 2, 2006 David A. Manning
Donald B. Harris
22 Rocky Barton July 12, 2006 Kimbirli Jo Barton
23 Darrell Ferguson August 8, 2006 Thomas King
Arlie Fugate
Mae Fugate
24 Jeffrey Lundgren October 24, 2006 Dennis Avery
Cheryl Avery
Trina Avery
Rebecca Avery
Karen Avery
25 James J. Filiaggi April 24, 2007 Lisa Huff Filiaggi Ted Strickland
26 Christopher Newton May 24, 2007 Jason Brewer
27 Richard Cooey October 14, 2008 Wendy Offredo
Dawn McCreery
28 Gregory Bryant-Bey November 19, 2008 Dale Pinkelman
Pete Mihas
29 Daniel E. Wilson June 3, 2009 Carol Lutz
30 John Joseph Fautenberry July 14, 2009 Joseph Daron Jr.
Jefferson Difee
Gary Farmer
Christine Guthrie
Donald Nutley
31 Marvallous Keene July 21, 2009 Sarah Abraham
Wendy Cottrill
Danita Gullette
Marvin Washington
Joseph Wilkerson
32 Jason Getsy August 18, 2009 Ann Serafino
33 Kenneth Biros December 8, 2009 Tami Engstrom
34 Vernon Lamont Smith January 7, 2010 Sohail Darwish
35 Mark Aaron Brown February 4, 2010 Hayder Al-Turk
Isam Salman
36 Lawrence Raymond Reynolds March 16, 2010 Loretta Foster
37 Darryl M. Durr April 20, 2010 Angel Vincent
38 Michael Francis Beuke May 13, 2010 Robert Craig
39 William Garner July 13, 2010 Deondra Freeman
Richard Gaines
Markeca Mason
Mykkila Mason
Denitra Satterwhite
40 Roderick Davie August 10, 2010 John Ira Coleman
Tracey Jeffreys
41 Michael W. Benge October 6, 2010 Judith Gabbard
42 Frank Spisak February 17, 2011 Rev. Horace Rickerson
Brian Warford
Timothy Sheehan
John Kasich
43 Johnnie Ray Baston March 10, 2011 Chong-Hoon Mah
44 Clarence Carter April 12, 2011 Johnny Allen
45 Daniel Lee Bedford May 17, 2011 Gwen Toepfert
John Smith
46 Reginald Brooks, Sr. November 15, 2011 Reginald Brooks, Jr.
Vaughn Brooks
Niarchos Brooks
47 Mark Wayne Wiles April 18, 2012 Mark Klima
48 Donald Palmer September 20, 2012 Charles Sponhaltz
Steven Vargo
49 Brett Xavier Hartman November 13, 2012 Winda Snipes
50 Frederick Treesh March 6, 2013 Henry Dupree
51 Steven T. Smith May 1, 2013 Autumn Carter
52 Harry D. Mitts, Jr. September 25, 2013 John Bryant
Sgt. Dennis Glivar Garfield Heights, Ohio police
53 Dennis B. McGuire January 16, 2014 Joy Stewart


The demographic information on the 34 inmates executed in Ohio between February 19, 1999, and January 7, 2010, is as follows:[citation needed]

  • Mean Age at Time of Execution: 44 years, 1.9 months
  • Mean Time from Death Sentence to Execution: 14 years, 6 months
  • Median Time from Death Sentence to Execution: 15 years, 11 months

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Capital Punishment in Ohio". Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. Retrieved 17 January 2014. 
  2. ^ "Death Row Inmates". Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. Retrieved 17 January 2014. 
  3. ^ Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551 (2005)
  4. ^ Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002)
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^ Death Row move to Chillicothe frees up cells | The Columbus Dispatch
  7. ^ Laws Passed in the Territory of the United States North-West of the River Ohio. Philadelphia, PA: Printed by F. Childs and J. Swaine, 1788.; microfiche Buffalo, NY: Hein, 1986.
  8. ^ These statutes are also known as the Marietta Code, as quoted in: Welsh-Huggins, Andrew: No Winners Here Tonight: Race, Politics, and Geography in One of the Country’s Busiest Death Penalty States. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2009, p. 12.
  9. ^ "That the mode of inflicting the punishment of death in all cases under this act, shall be by hanging by the neck, until the person so to be punished shall be dead; & the sheriff, or the coroner in the case of the death, inability or absence of the sheriff of the proper county, in which the sentence of death shall be pronounced by force of this act, shall be the executioner". (quoted from: Streib, Victor L.: The Fairer Death: Executing Women in Ohio. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2006, p. 23.)
  10. ^ "... and when any person shall be sentenced, by any cort of the state having competent jurisdiction, to be hanged by the neck until dead, such punishment shall only be inflicted within the walls of the Ohio penitentiary, at Columbus, Ohio, within an enclosure to be prepared for that purpose under the direction of the warden of the penitentiary and the board of managers thereof, which enclosure shall be higher than the gallows, and so constructed as to exclude public view". (quoted from: Streib, Victor L.: The Fairer Death: Executing Women in Ohio. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2006, p. 23, 24.)
  11. ^ "The mode of inflicting the punishment of death shall be by hanging by the neck until the person is dead; and the warden of the Ohio penitentiary, or in case of his death, inability or absence, a deputy warden, shall be the executioner;...". (quoted from: Streib, Victor L.: The Fairer Death: Executing Women in Ohio. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2006, p. 24.)
  12. ^ The death sentence against Anna Marie Hahn reads as follows: "[O]n the 10th day of March, 1938, the said Warden shall cause a current of electricity of sufficient intensity to cause death to pass through the body of the said defendant, the application of such current to be continued until the said defendant is dead, and may God have mercy on your soul". (quoted from: Streib, Victor L.: The Fairer Death: Executing Women in Ohio. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2006, p. 44.)
  13. ^ Killer executed for 1994 Toledo murder | The Columbus Dispatch
  14. ^ a b c Ehrenfreund, Max (January 16, 2014). "Dennis McGuire executed in Ohio with new combination of lethal drugs". The Washington Post. Retrieved 17 January 2014. 
  15. ^ Higgs, Robert (January 16, 2014). "State executes murderer Dennis McGuire, marking first use of new blend of drugs for lethal injection". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved 17 January 2014. 
  16. ^ a b Ford, Dana (January 16, 2014). "Controversial execution in Ohio uses new drug combination". CNN. Retrieved 17 January 2014. 
  17. ^ Welsh-Huggins, Andrew (January 16, 2014). "Executed Killer Dennis McGuire, who was convicted of raping and then murdering 22 year old Joy Stewart who was 30 week pregnant, Gasped And Snorted For 15 Minutes Under New Lethal Drug Combo". Huffington Post. Retrieved 17 January 2014. 


  • Laws Passed in the Territory of the United States North-West of the River Ohio. Philadelphia, PA: Printed by F. Childs and J. Swaine, 1788.; microfiche Buffalo, NY: Hein, 1986.
  • Davis, Harry: Death by Law. Columbus, OH: Federal Printing, 1922. (Reprinted from Outlook Magazine).
  • DeBeck, William: Murder Will Out: The Murders and Executions of Cincinnati. Cincinnati, OH: 1867.
  • DiSalle, Michael: The Power of Life or Death. New York, NY: Random House, 1965.
  • Wanger, Eugene G.: "Capital Punishment in Ohio: A Brief History", Ohio Lawyer, November–December 2002, 8, 11, 30.
  • Fogle, H. M.: The Palace of Death, or, The Ohio Penitentiary Annex. Columbus, OH: 1908.
  • Fornshell, Marvin E.: The Historical and Illustrated Ohio Penitentiary Annex. Columbus, OH: Arthur, W. McGraw, 1997 (reprint of the 1903 original)
  • Hixon, Mary, and Frances Hixon: The Last Hangings: Jackson, Ohio 1883-1884. Mary Hixon and Frances Hixon, 1989
  • Maynard, Rosina: Ohio's Other Lottery System: The Death Penalty. Columbus, OH: Rosina Maynard, 1980.
  • Morgan, Dan: Historical Lights and Shadows of the Ohio State Penitentiary. Columbus, OH: Ohio Penitentiary Printing, 1893.
  • Welsh-Huggins, Andrew: No Winners Here Tonight: Race, Politics, and Geography in One of the Country’s Busiest Death Penalty States. Columbus, OH: Ohio University Press, 2008
  • Streib, Victor L.: The Fairer Death: Executing Women in Ohio. Columbus, OH: Ohio University Press, 2006

External links[edit]

These links are to official State of Ohio records regarding executions in the state and Ohio administrative rules and statutes pertaining to capital punishment in Ohio