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June 4, 2010

Ohio governor communtes death sentence for next in line for execution

As detailed in this new Columbus Dispatch article, which is headlined "Strickland grants clemency to killer," it appears that Ohio will not have its now usual monthly execution in June.  Here is why:

Gov. Ted Strickland has decided to spare the life of Hamilton County killer Richard Nields who was scheduled for execution next week. Strickland issued a statement this morning saying he agreed with the Ohio Parole Board which voted 4-3 to recommend clemency for Nields.

“I concur with the rationale and recommendation of the Ohio Parole Board majority and have, therefore, decided to commute Mr. Nields’ sentence to a term of life in prison without the possibility of parole,” Strickland said.

Nields, 60, admitted that he killed his longtime girlfriend, Patricia Newsome, 59, in an alcohol-induced rage on March 27, 1997.

It was the second time in 16 capital punishment cases in which Strickland commuted a murder’s death sentence to life in prison. The other 14 men were executed. The Parole Board concluded, and Strickland agreed, that medical testimony in Nields' original trial was unreliable. Both also cited a strong dissent in the case by Ohio Supreme Court Justice Paul E. Pfeiffer and concerns expressed by the 6th U.S. Circuit County of Appeals which said Nields' crime "just barely" got him over the threshold in Ohio's capital punishment law.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph Deters strongly criticized the clemency recommendation, calling it improper second-guessing of decisions made by jurors and courts years after the fact.

Governor Strickland's full statement explaining this clemency decision can be found at this link.

June 4, 2010 at 12:59 PM | Permalink


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Did federalist have a heart attack or something? He should have thrown a fit hours ago.

Posted by: JC | Jun 4, 2010 4:18:58 PM

I think that I heard him. Clemency must be granted occasionally when warranted or the courts get involved as in California.Contrary to previous posts when Strickland took office, he has done an admirable job dealing with these petitions. He should be really experienced by now with 1 execution scheduled for the next 8 months.

Posted by: DaveP | Jun 4, 2010 8:12:36 PM

Since I believe that the presumptive penalty for murder should be death, and mandatory at that, I fail to see why anyone would give mercy to a guy who robs and kills his ex-girlfriend. I personally find the "jilted lover" murder scenario appalling--it's the ultimate form of control. The idea that someone doesn't have the personal autonomy to leave someone is a sick one, and, in my view, extremely aggravating.

Strickland doesn't like the death penalty. That showed here.

Posted by: federalist | Jun 5, 2010 11:28:06 AM

A confusing result for sure. It amazes me that only 1 justice/judge from the Ohio Court of Appeals and Ohio Supreme Court (Pfeiffer) found that the crime didn't meet the aggravation to warrant a death sentence. I assume the Ohio CA has 3 judges and the Ohio SC has 7. 9 judges found this to be a death penalty case worth affirming and 1 did not? Cert was denied, the US District Court denied the writ, the 6th affirmed with reluctance. Boggs was on the panel. The voice of 1 state supreme court justice and the 6th circuit practically inviting the Governor to intervene at the end of the opinion tipped Strickland to grant clemency? I doubt this case would have been affirmed on direct appeal here in Florida.

Posted by: DaveP | Jun 5, 2010 2:44:19 PM

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