Ohio man gets death for 1997 murder of neighbor

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 10, 2012 6:38 PM
Ohio man gets death for 1997 murder of neighbor

By Joe Wessels

CINCINNATI (Reuters) - An Ohio judge sent a man back to death row on Tuesday, the second time he was sentenced to die by lethal injection for the 1997 home invasion bludgeoning murder of a neighbor over $50.

A federal court had granted Rayshawn Johnson, 33, a new sentencing hearing, finding the original court erred by not allowing jurors to consider the man's difficult childhood when they sentenced him to death.

But the second time around the court sentenced him to death again. Judge Ralph Winkler on Tuesday agreed with an Ohio jury's recommendation late last year that Johnson be put to death for killing Shanon Marks.

Johnson's appeals process starts over, but now covers only the latest sentencing, said Julie Wilson, chief assistant prosecutor with the Hamilton County prosecutor's office.

Johnson admitted to killing Marks on a November morning in 1997 after he entered her house in East Walnut Hills, a Cincinnati neighborhood, wearing gloves and carrying a baseball bat shortly after her husband left for work, according to court records.

Marks put up a fight when Johnson confronted her in a second floor bathroom and he struck her repeatedly with the bat. Johnson got away with $50. Marks's husband found his wife's bludgeoned body eight hours later.

Johnson's mother testified in the new hearing that her drug abuse prevented her from being a good mother. In addition, his grandmother said she abused alcohol when Johnson was a child, including times when she was caring for him.

Johnson's son, a baby when his father killed Marks and now 14, said his father's life should be spared so he could continue to be a good influence, which the boy said his father had become during his visits to the prison.

(Reporting by Joe Wessels; Editing by David Bailey)