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July 17, 2009

Ohio board recommends clemency in capital case based on co-defendant disparity

In the federal sentencing system, defendants often point to lesser sentences given to co-defendants in order to argue for lower sentences themselves.  As detailed in this local state capital sentencing story, the concept of co-defendant disparity this week prompted the Ohio parole board to make a recommendation of clemency for a defendant slated to be executed in August. Here are the basics:

The triggerman in a 1995 murder-for-hire scheme should be spared execution because other members of the plot were just as guilty, the Ohio Parole Board said Friday in a rare ruling in favor of mercy.  The board ruled 5-2 in favor of clemency for Jason Getsy, 33, scheduled to be executed Aug. 18 for the murder of 68-year-old Ann Serafino, of Hubbard.

Getsy was also convicted of the attempted murder of Serafino's son, Charles, who was the target of the scheme. Getsy and other participants did not expect Ann Serafino to be home the night of the shooting.

The board singled out the life sentence for John Santine, who initiated and organized the crime, saying Santine appeared to be just as guilty as Getsy. Santine, 48, is serving a sentence of 35 years to life. "In imposing a death sentence, it is imperative that we have consistency and similar penalties imposed upon similarly situated co-defendants," the parole board said.

The board noted that prosecutors downplayed Santine's influence during Getsy's trial but made that influence the primary theory behind the crime during Santine's trial. Two board members voted against clemency, saying nothing requires a comparison of Getsy's sentence to that of Santine. "So, because Santine was not given the sentence that some think he deserves, we should recommend a change in Getsy's sentencing that some think he deserves?" said board members Ellen Venters and Bobby Bogan.

Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins denounced the decision, calling Getsy a cold-blooded murderer who bragged about killing Ann Serafino. "It's not fair and it undermines a just verdict, in this particular case, an actual killer who maliciously killed a woman in her home in execution style," Watkins said....

Gov. Ted Strickland, who has the final say, will review the case thoroughly, spokeswoman Allison Kolodziej said Friday.

A three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out Getsy's sentence in 2006 as arbitrary. The full 6th Circuit reinstated the sentence in 2007 in a divided 8-6 ruling.

Favorable clemency recommendations are rare in Ohio, which has executed 30 men since 1999, with another execution likely Tuesday.

July 17, 2009 at 09:49 PM | Permalink


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What a joke. This decision, which is based on squeamishness and a fetish for so-called rights, is laughable. First of all, murderers have zero claim to some sort of cosmic fairness as between co-defendants. They get a chance to present their case to a jury on the public dime and get to regale the jury with how mommy and daddy didn't give them enough love. That's more than enough process. Second of all, if one thinks about this standard, it's easy to see that lone murderers get "screwed". When murderers act in concert, they are more dangerous, but with this standard, each murderer is entitled to the mercy (misplaced or otherwise) of each of his co-defendants--how is that not arbitrary--a built-in structural advantage to killers who act in concert.

"In imposing a death sentence, it is imperative that we have consistency and similar penalties imposed upon similarly situated co-defendants." Oh yeah? Says who? Five squeamish twits who are more concerned with moral preening than justice.

Getsy needs to be put down. Why spend all the money getting to the death sentence and then all the money to keep him in jail for life?

Posted by: federalist | Jul 18, 2009 10:58:36 AM

The Parole Board should get in a database of criminal lover internal traitors. Once the lawyer criminal cult syndicate has been removed from the reins of government, payback visits all internal traitors and all criminals who benefited from their criminal lover bias.

After a brief short trial, of course, they get to take the murderer's place in the death chamber. The death chamber will then be a hole in the ground, where the police officer just shoots the condemned in the head.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 18, 2009 5:53:44 PM

As I always say American death penalty is a human sacrifice. nothing to see with justice

Posted by: claudio giusti, italia | Aug 15, 2009 3:42:10 PM

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