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September 11, 2019

Just in time for our turn to discuss the modern death penalty...

we have lots of notable Ohio death penalty news.  For starters, yesterday a Ohio judge officially imposed a sentence of death here in Columbus as reported in this local article.  Here are some details (with a few "whos" highlighted):

Clifton Duckson doesn’t know if the man who murdered his daughter and granddaughter in the backyard of his Far East Side house will ever be executed.  It was enough for him to be in a Franklin County courtroom Wednesday when the judge imposed the death penalty.  “I just needed to hear the words,” he said after Common Pleas Judge Chris Brown followed a jury’s recommendation and sentenced Kristofer Garrett to death. “Whether he ever gets put to death, that’s not my concern.”

Duckson encouraged the judge to follow the recommendation on behalf of his 4-year-old granddaughter, Kristina Duckson, and her 34-year-old mother, Nicole Duckson, who were fatally stabbed on Jan. 5, 2018.  “I ask for justice, not revenge,” he said. “I’m asking for what those 12 jurors agreed was justice — the maximum penalty that the law will allow for these horrific murders.”

The jury convicted Garrett, 26, of aggravated murder charges on Aug. 6. Testimony showed that Garrett ambushed Nicole Duckson, his ex-girlfriend, and their daughter, stabbing them repeatedly in the snowy backyard of the Fleet Road home they shared with Nicole’s father.

Eight days later, after weighing the aggravating circumstances of the crimes against mitigating factors presented by Garrett’s defense team, the jurors agreed that two of the aggravating circumstances in Kristina’s death — that she was under the age of 13 and that Garrett killed her to cover up Nicole’s murder — outweighed any mitigating factors and recommended the death sentence.

The judge, who had the option of imposing a sentence of life in prison, said he reached the same conclusion as the jury, and thus was required by state law to impose the death penalty.

It was the first time since 2003 that a Franklin County jury had recommended a death sentence.  The last death sentence in the county was imposed in 2012 by a three-judge panel for Caron Montgomery, who waived his right to a jury in the stabbing deaths of his girlfriend and her two children.

“I think when children are victims of a terrible crime, I think juries are going to look at (the death penalty) and the court’s going to look at it,” Prosecutor Ron O’Brien said after the hearing when asked about the rarity of death sentences in Franklin County.

And just today, a panel of local federal judges got in the "who" act when they upheld the constitutionality of the (somewhat unique) lethal injection protocol that has been adopted by Ohio corrections official.  The ruling in In re Ohio Execution Protocol Litigation, No. 19-3064 (6th Cir. Sept 11, 2019) (available here), unlike lots of other death penalty opinions, is pretty short and shows what appellate judges can do when so interested.  As I explain in a post on my main blog, the next big question in this setting is whether Ohio Gov DeWine will now be eager to move forward with executions that he stayed based on the (now rejected) findings by a lower federal court in this litigation:  After Sixth Circuit panel approves (resoundingly) Ohio's execution protocol, will state now seek to restart its machinery of death?

September 11, 2019 in Death penalty history, Execution methods | Permalink


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