WARREN, Ohio (WJW) – There is a proposal to end the death penalty in Ohio, sparked by a group of bipartisan Ohio lawmakers.
The legislators say the state’s death penalty has failed as a crime deterrent and is costly and broken.
The last execution in Ohio was in July 2018.
Tuesday, Ohio lawmakers from both sides of the aisle explained why it should be replaced with life without parole, but some crime victims say capital punishment should stay.
“Pulled him off his bike, they strangled him, they used a broom handle to impale him and set him on fire and God only knows how long he was still conscious when they did all these things,” said 82-year-old Miriam Fife.
The Trumbull County woman has waited decades to get justice for her son.
On Sept. 10, 1985, her 12-year-old son Raymond was tortured and murdered in Warren.
Danny Lee Hill, who was 18 at the time, was sentenced to death, but nearly 38 years later, Miriam is still waiting for the sentence to be carried out.
“It guarantees that they will never get out by some of these bleeding hearts that might get on the parole board and eventually do away with this life without parole. Next thing you know, they’ll be on the streets again,” Fife said.
The proposal has bipartisan support.
“End capital punishment, which has been found to be expensive, impractical, unjust, unfair, inhumane and in the past, even erroneous,” said State Senator Nickie Antonio (D) Lakewood.
“I believe that as a devout Catholic, the death penalty is wrong, based on there should be one being that decides if you live or die and that’s the Lord and it’s not a judge,” said State Senator Steve Huffman, (R) Tipp City.
Proponents held a news briefing in Columbus Tuesday to discuss the introduction of their legislation that would eliminate the death penalty and replace it with life in prison without parole.
“It is clear that not all Ohioans are treated equally in the death penalty sentencing. Over half of Ohio’s death row is Black, while Black people make up only 13% of the total population of Ohio,” said State Senator Hearcel Craig, (D) Columbus.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost released a statement reading, in part, “I support the death penalty, especially for the most heinous offenders. Ohio’s death penalty is a farce and a broken promise of justice – and it must be fixed. If Ohio chooses to end capital punishment, let it own the decision in the full light of day. I will stand on the other side, with the families of the slain.”
Governor Mike DeWine has temporarily halted executions, saying the state cannot get the necessary drugs to carry them out.
“I think our governor, who is the only person who can order those drugs for an execution, needs to stop using that as an excuse,” said Miriam.
A 17-year-old was also convicted in the killing of Raymond Fife, but he was too young to receive the death penalty and ended up dying in prison.
The communications manager for Cuyahoga County prosecutor Michael O’Malley says the decision is up to the state legislature and they will follow whatever the result is.