By Jim Leckrone
COLUMBUS, Ohio (Reuters) - Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Wednesday commuted the sentence of convicted killer Shawn Hawkins to life in prison, removing him from death row.
Hawkins, 42, was convicted of fatally shooting two teenagers in a Cincinnati suburb in June 1989. The Ohio Parole Board recommended clemency, noting conflicting statements by a key witness, and that the roles of other individuals may not have been fully investigated.
"There is no doubt that the defendant played a significant, material role in this heinous crime, but precise details of that role are frustrating unclear to the point that Ohio shouldn't deliver the ultimate penalty in this case," Kasich, a Republican, said in a statement.
Kasich said his prayers go out to the families of Diamond Marteen and Terrance Richard, the victims in the case.
The American Civil Liberties Union had urged clemency. While the number of executions in Ohio has increased in recent years, the state has granted clemency to three condemned men over the past year.
Twenty people have been executed in the United States this year, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
(Writing by Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Greg McCune)