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July 10, 2012

Ohio Gov. Kasich commutes yet another murderer's death sentence

As reported here last month, a divided Ohio Parole Board urged Gov John Kasich to reject the clemency request of condemned killer John Eley who was scheduled to to be executed later this month.  I now say "was scheduled to to be executed" because, as reported in this new local article, "Gov. John Kasich today commuted the death sentence of a Mahoning County murderer to life in prison without parole [citing] the mental capacity of John Jeffrey Eley as his reason for offering the leniency."  Here is more on this notable commutation:

Eley was scheduled to die for lethal injection next year for the 1987 killing of a 28-year-ild Ihsan Aydah, which the governor called a "heinous act" but an act that Eley is not fully responsible.

"In participating in the murder, John Jeffrey Eley, who has limited mental capacity, acted under the direction of another man who was later acquitted," Kasich said in a press release. "Without those factors it is doubtful that Eley would have committed this crime."

Kasich also noted that the Mahoning County prosecutor who tried Eley's case has also called for clemency. "The combined weight of these facts leads me to commute Eley's sentence to life in prison without parole," Kasich said. "Murder under any circumstance is an atrocious act and this decisionin no way diminishes that or the actions of Eley. I pray that the family and friends of Ihsan Aydah can find peace."

The referenced press release (which says little more than what is reprinted in the article above) is available at this link.

Some recent related posts on Eley case and some earlier Kasich clemency grants:

July 10, 2012 at 04:29 PM | Permalink

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Comments

So let me get this straight:
He committed capital murder.
He was offered a chance to avoid this death sentence by identifying and testifying against another guilty party.
He refused, thereby allowing another murderer to evade justice.
But he'll be able to dodge the death penalty anyway in spite of doing nothing to earn mercy.
Why not.

As a side note, if the prosecutor didn't want this murderer put to death wouldn't it have been better to push for a sentence of life and not waste years of the prosecutors' time and upwards of a million dollars? Not to mention drag this out for the victim's family?

Posted by: MikeinCT | Jul 10, 2012 6:09:04 PM

Kasich should have his "R" revoked. He is a pathetic excuse for a governor.

Posted by: federalist | Jul 10, 2012 7:26:16 PM

"yet another" ... the article says this "is the third death row inmate whose sentence Kasich has commuted since he took office in January 2011." Three!

I note that the person still has "life in prison without parole" given the "atrocious act" involved but that the governor along with a prosecutor (not some "Democrat" or "defense attorney") though commutation was appropriate in this context. The Democratic Party is of course always available if such people do meet federalist's purity standards. :)

Posted by: Joe | Jul 10, 2012 9:02:48 PM

MikeinCT --

Nailed it.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 10, 2012 9:51:50 PM

federalist --

He must be running for the Lincoln Chafee Clone of the Year Award.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 10, 2012 9:53:12 PM

Kasich has balanced the budget without raising taxes and turned down federal disaster aid when offered it after tornados hit. But a couple commutations to death in prison instead of immediate death makes him insufficiently Republican? Absurd. He's the governor of Ohio, not Alabama.

Posted by: Thinkaboutit | Jul 10, 2012 10:04:38 PM

It's sad that there are people who believe a governor's partisan affiliation should dictate how he or she exercises commutation power. Whatever one's position on the merits of a decision in this realm, the decision should be the product of reasoned deliberation and not the letter that happens to appear next to the politicians name.

Posted by: Kevin S | Jul 10, 2012 10:09:51 PM

Pardons are political Kevin, and I doubt that will change anytime soon. Although I suspect Republicans are more likely to pardon or commute sentences than Democrats, because Democratic politicians feel vulnerable to a charge of soft on crime while Republicans can depend on their party image to shield them from such a charge. For example, there is no Democratic politician I would bet on pardoning or commuting as many sentences as Mike Huckabee did.

Posted by: Paul | Jul 10, 2012 11:33:46 PM

Hey Joe,

I use the term "yet another" in the title here because Gov Kasich's record of three capital commutations over the last 18 months ties the most by any governor (Republican or Democrat) in any state in such a short time period (not counting mass commutations done in states after DP repeals). Gov Kasich's predecessor in Ohio, Gov. Ted Strickland, also did three capital commutation in a short period during the latter part of his term (though I think all were win accord with the recommendation of the Ohio Pardon Board).

Posted by: Doug B. | Jul 11, 2012 2:48:32 AM

Thinkaboutit --

Even the very best Republicans make mistakes, see, e.g., Reagan and arms-for-hostages. It doesn't mean they get thrown out of the party, and still less does it mean we should line up with Harry, Barry and Scary. But it's fair to point out the errors and hope for improvement.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 11, 2012 9:14:33 AM

Thinkaboutit stated: "Kasich has balanced the budget without raising taxes and turned down federal disaster aid when offered it after tornados hit. But a couple commutations to death in prison instead of immediate death makes him insufficiently Republican? Absurd. He's the governor of Ohio, not Alabama."

The question I would have is, "What benefit did the state or Kasich receive from the commutation?" You are correct that Ohio is not Alabama and a Republican governor in that state cannot govern in the same manner as his equal in Dixie. Sometimes the the Republicans are unfair with their criticism of the Maine ladies, for example, but this is no such case.

In addition to being contrary to justice, this will not win him a single vote. It aggravates Republicans and will not move a single Dem or independent other than the criminal's relatives. It follows the ridiculous pattern of trying to win favor with the media as a "compassionate" politician and it never works. The D's are far superior at displaying false compassion and always will be.

In a nutshell, the act is pointless.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Jul 11, 2012 10:07:29 AM

Thanks Doug.

Posted by: Joe | Jul 11, 2012 10:30:40 AM

Tarls--

There is another possibility--that Gov. Kasich genuinely believes that the three commutations were the right thing to do, rather than an attempt to play the media. The general consensus from the commenters here (myself included) is that it was a dodgy decision, but maybe Kasich thought differently.

Part of why I believe Kasich's decision was based on his own views, and not some political calculus, is that he knows the decisions will almost certainly not even be noticed except by those who live and breathe those issues as we do. The reality is that Ohioans really don't give a crap whether a guy's death sentence is commuted or not--we have too many other things on our plate right now to worry about whether one guy, or three, will face the needle or simply rot in prison.

When once-proud towns are shuttering, and college graduates overburdened by debt can't find jobs to make the payments, the death penalty becomes a throw-away issue. You could fit the people who decide their votes on the basis of Kasich's commutations in a phonebooth.

Posted by: Res ipsa | Jul 11, 2012 12:22:03 PM

|| …[Citing] the mental capacity of John Jeffrey Eley as his reason for offering the leniency. ||
"John Jeffrey Eley…acted under the direction of another man…"~~Kasich (R)

At Nuremberg, just following orders was not enough of a defence, nor was idiocy.
How far down the slope from our Judeo-Christian heritage we have slid, in our "Slouch toward Gomorrah".

“Violence can only be concealed by a lie.”‘~~ Alexandr Solzhenitsyn

Posted by: Adamakis | Jul 11, 2012 12:46:00 PM

Hasn't "federalist" touted the theory that election of Republicans will cure all "evils"?

While commutation of the death sentence of a mentally challenged individual, which is supported by the prosecutor, seems eminently reasonable, it is my understanding that, in the twisted sphere of reality occupied by "federalist", the commutation of any death sentence is "evil".

Isn't Kasich a true Republican, who used to work for the Republican National Headquarters, I mean ... the Fox News Channel?

Posted by: Eric Leslie | Jul 11, 2012 1:12:18 PM

Congratulations to Governor Kasich for the moral courage to do what he thought right.

Posted by: Michael R. Levine | Jul 11, 2012 2:32:02 PM

Paul, while I agree pardons have political implications that does not necessarily mean they have to be made politically. Without evidence in front of me to suggest otherwise, I also don't think Republicans are more inclined to exercise pardon or commutation authority. This is not to say years of getting labeled as soft on crime has not affected how Democrats address the issue. Instead, I think we have arrived at an unfortunate equilibrium where both parties are more likely to see the potential consequences of being on the wrong side of a pardon/commutation decision and simply avoid the risk altogether. This is why it is important to stand-up to statements like that made by federalist (especially when Kasich's active conservative credentials can hardly be in doubt). If Republicans can be pro-active in this space, a la Nixon going to China, such decisions can become less likely to be used as a political weapon. I would like Prof. Berman, what with his prolific posting and Daily Beast column writing on Right on Crime, would agree.

Posted by: Kevin S | Jul 11, 2012 9:59:44 PM

I join with Mr. Levine in congratulating Governor Kasich. Just as it took Nixon to go to China, these days it takes a Republicans with courage to commute a death sentence. I believe there's statement by a sage to the following effect: "In a place where there are no men, strive to be a man." Three Cheers for Kasich and moral courage!!

Posted by: onlooker | Jul 11, 2012 10:38:03 PM

If Romney is elected, will he wear his magic underwear when making pardon decisions?

Posted by: Vince Wright | Jul 12, 2012 1:28:34 AM

Levine: || Congratulations to Governor Kasich for the moral courage to do what he thought right. ||

Did Pres. Clinton or Eric Holder display your definition of courage in pardoning Marc Rich?

Did the jury who acquitted Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam for the murder of Emmett Till, display such moral courage in doing what they thought right? &tc., &tc.

I suggest that you tackle the weightier issue of the relevance of mental capacity as a mitigator of culpability, or perhaps address Gov. Kasich's utilization of the Nuremberg defence.

Posted by: Adamakis | Jul 12, 2012 8:57:19 AM

Vince Wright - LOL. Either that, or, he'll be consulting with space babies.

(Almost every Mormon I've met is a nice person, but that religion is bat-sh*t- crazy -- even more so than other religions.).

Posted by: Calif. Capital Defense Counsel | Jul 12, 2012 10:37:00 AM

Adamakis, greetings!

you ask: 'Did Pres. Clinton or Eric Holder display your definition of courage in pardoning Marc Rich?"

I answer "NO." Clinton's pardoning of Rich was outrageous and a crass political payback--moral cowardice if you will, not moral courage. A final stain on a flawed President. But I see Kasich's act as entirely different. He gains nothing by this commutation. If anything he loses political support and earns contempt from some of his right-wing followers--as the comments on this thread suggest. Upon refection, however, even these folks should concede that his action requires and displays undaunted courage, a trait soreley lacking among politicians of all parties.

Posted by: Michael R. Levine | Jul 12, 2012 11:33:03 AM

Although I suspect Republicans are more likely to pardon or commute sentences than Democrats, because Democratic politicians feel vulnerable to a charge of soft on crime while Republicans can depend on their party image to shield them from such a charge.

Posted by: Raptors Snapback | Sep 11, 2012 8:18:01 PM

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