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September 25, 2012

Following up with killer saved from death via clemency by Ohio Gov Kasich

My local Columbus Dispatch has this interesting story following up on an Ohio condemned inmate a year after his death sentence was commuted to LWOP. The piece is headlined "No future, but it beats death for spared man," and here are excerpts:

Joseph Murphy knows he will die in prison. He just doesn’t know when. He’s OK with that. “I have accepted the fact I will be here the rest of my life,” he said.  “Whatever happens in here, it’s better than it was at home."

Murphy was supposed to be executed by the state on Oct. 18, 2011, for the 1987 throat-slashing murder of 72-year-old Ruth Predmore during a robbery at her home in Marion. Over 24 years, courts at all levels had rejected his appeals.  His attorneys, public defenders Pamela J. Prude-Smithers and Kathryn L. Sandford, knew Gov. John Kasich was their client’s last hope.

On Sept. 26 last year, Kasich intervened, commuting Murphy’s death sentence to life without the possibility of parole.  Kasich said considering Murphy’s “brutally abusive upbringing and the relatively young age at which he committed this terrible crime, the death penalty is not appropriate in this case.”

Murphy, 47, who spent most of his life — beginning at age 6 — in juvenile lockups, mental-health wards and prison, now faces the prospect of living the rest of his days with no hope of freedom.  The third of Stella and Jerry Murphy’s six children, he was raised in a West Virginia tarpaper shack with no plumbing or electricity.  His mother often failed to feed him as a child, and his father beat him and his siblings with switches, belts and extension cords.

Murphy was stabbed in the head with a steak knife by his brother, raped by a man who supplied Murphy’s father with moonshine and set on fire to prevent a children’s services worker from seeing welts on his back from recent beatings.

Prison is the only real home Murphy knows.  He calls himself “state-raised.”  After spending two decades alone in a cell, Murphy now has a cellmate and is housed in a unit with dozens of other prisoners.  “It was mind-rattling,” he said during an interview last week at the Toledo Correctional Institution, where he was transferred from Death Row at the Ohio State Penitentiary at Youngstown.  “ It was kind of hard being around a bunch of people. ... It’s hard getting used to the noise.”

In nearly a year in Toledo, Murphy hasn’t had an infraction, said Darlene Mitchell, assistant to the warden.  He has corresponded with Peg Predmore Kavanagh, the 68-year-old niece of Murphy’s victim.  Kavanagh testified via video in support of clemency for Murphy at the Ohio Parole Board hearing last year....

His abusive father is dead, and Murphy hasn’t had a single visit, letter or call from his mother or four brothers.  “At first, I was upset.  I wrote to them and said I was off Death Row,” he said.  “I sent her more letters and cards at Thanksgiving and Christmas, but she didn’t write back.  I love my mother to death and I always will.  But it seems like she’s upset that I wasn’t executed.”

September 25, 2012 at 08:33 AM | Permalink


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He slashed an old woman's throat during a robbery. Hard-luck story or not, he should've been put to death.

Posted by: alpino | Sep 25, 2012 11:11:54 AM

Is Ms. Predmore alive yet?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Sep 25, 2012 12:38:11 PM

"I love my mother to death." Oh, oh.

We are solidly in the upside down, Twilight Zone world of the lawyer. Aggravating factors are called mitigating factors.

I suggest not making any noise around him, since noise upsets him. And he now has absolute immunity to kill at will.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Sep 25, 2012 3:08:26 PM

"Kasich said considering Murphy’s “...relatively young age at which he committed this terrible crime, the death penalty is not appropriate in this case.”

Good thing you caught this, Guvenuh, because I'm sure the jury didn't know the age at which Murphy murdered this precious soul.

Now we know that the death penalty is only ""appropriate"" when 1} the murderer was not brutally-abused-in-his-upbringing, and 2) the slayer was not relatively-young-when he took the life?

[& if not, one ought override the jury]

----I should have gone to OSU----

Posted by: Adamakis | Sep 26, 2012 4:40:33 PM

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