Prosecutor urges Ohio to appeal death penalty case

AP News
|
Posted: Jan 14, 2012 8:33 PM
Prosecutor urges Ohio to appeal death penalty case

A county prosecutor on Saturday asked Ohio to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of an inmate whose scheduled Wednesday execution has been delayed.

Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins sent a letter urging Gov. John Kasich to ask Ohio's attorney general to appeal to the Supreme Court in the case of Charles Lorraine, who was condemned for killing a Trumbull County couple in 1986. Watkins argued that the federal courts have wrongly interfered with Ohio executions.

Two federal courts agreed with Lorraine's contention that Ohio broke its promise to adhere strictly to its execution procedures. The state had argued that the execution should proceed, that deviations from the procedures during the last execution were minor and that an inmate's rights would not be violated by changes such as which official announced the start and finish times of an injection.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday said Lorraine's execution should be delayed while the changes are reviewed. The ruling supported an earlier decision by U.S. District Court Judge Gregory Frost, who criticized the state for deviating from policy when an inmate was executed in November.

"We must argue that federal judges are duty-bound to give reasonable discretion to state officials in performing their official duties, and surely stays should never be granted by a federal judge without following the declared law of the U.S. Supreme Court," wrote Watkins, who said he had prosecuted the case.

He also said the allegation that Ohio can't be "trusted" to conduct executions "in a humane and constitutionally-compliant manner is ludicrous."

The governor's spokesman confirmed Kasich's office had received the letter.

"The administration is currently working with the attorney general to determine the appropriate way forward," spokesman Rob Nichols said Saturday. Kasich already has denied Lorraine's request for mercy.

Records show Lorraine, 45, repeatedly stabbed 77-year-old Raymond Montgomery and his bedridden wife, 80-year-old Doris Montgomery, before burglarizing their Trumbull County home in 1986.

Lorraine's attorney, Allen L. Bohnert, said in an email to the AP on Saturday night that Watkins has not been involved with and is not familiar with the issues and facts of the Ohio Execution Protocol case, which dates back almost eight years.

Bohnert said the case is not about the crimes for which Lorraine was convicted and sentenced, but about the state's liability to apply its law equally. He again called on the governor to enact a moratorium on executions in Ohio.