Ohioans to Stop Executions and other human rights groups are asking Gov. John Kasich to halt any further executions of inmates until the Ohio Supreme Court completes its review of the state’s death penalty process.
The groups, which include the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center (IJPC) in Cincinnati, say the U.S. Supreme Court has denied a petition by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office to review an August 2011 ruling by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. That means the exoneration of Death Row inmate Joe D’Ambrosio is upheld.
The denial was announced today by John Q. Lewis and David Mills, D’Ambrosio’s attorneys.
D’Ambrosio was wrongfully convicted of the 1988 murder of Anthony Klann in Cleveland. Cuyahoga County prosecutors withheld 10 pieces of evidence that would have exonerated D’Ambrosio at his trial and implicated another suspect in the crime, a judge ruled in March 2010. D’Ambrosio had spent 21 years in prison while awaiting execution and appealing his case.
D’Ambrosio is the 140th Death Row exoneration in the United States since 1973 and the sixth in Ohio.
The Plain Dealer had reported that Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Joan Synenberg dismissed all charges against D'Ambrosio and ordered him released in March 2010, shortly after U.S. District Judge Kate O'Malley ruled D'Ambrosio couldn’t be retried for the 1988 killing.
“This case exemplifies one of the most serious flaws of our death penalty system — the dangerous risk Ohio runs of executing someone for a crime he didn’t commit,” said Kevin Werner, executive director of Ohioans to Stop Executions, in a prepared statement.
“Joe D’Ambrosio is exonerated today by sheer coincidence. It was a coincidence that Joe met Rev. Neil Kookoothe who is trained as a lawyer and critical care nurse and that Rev. Kookoothe was willing to look closely at this case,” Werner added. “Coincidence is not the standard we should be comfortable with when our justice system is seeking to execute people.”
In a statement issued today, IJPC said: “It's crystal clear that executions must stop in Ohio. No one should be executed under a system of justice while that very system is being closely examined to assess its fairness and accuracy.”
IJPC is urging people to call Kasich at 614-466-3555 and tell him to impose the moratorium on executions.
Statistics show that 94 nations — including most democracies like Canada and those in the European Union — have abolished capital punishment, while 10 others only allow it under special circumstances.
Fifty-eight nations allow the death penalty, with most of them totalitarian in nature like China, Iran, North Korea and Saudi Arabia. The United States, Japan and Singapore are the only fully developed countries that still use the death penalty.
Ohioans to Stop Executions is a nonprofit organization that includes faith and community leaders, activists, attorneys, Death Row exonerees and murder victims’ families who work toward abolishing the death penalty in Ohio.