Ohio governor won’t spare the life of seriously ill inmate

FILE – This undated file photo provided by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction shows death row inmate Alva Campbell, convicted of fatally shooting Charles Dials, during a carjacking in 1997. (Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction via AP, File)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Thursday rejected a request for mercy from a condemned inmate who argues he had such a bad childhood and is in such poor health he should be spared from execution next month.

The Republican governor’s decision came in the case of Alva Campbell, set to die by lethal injection on Nov. 15 for killing a teen during a 1997 carjacking. The slaying came five years after he was paroled on a different murder charge.

Kasich, who did not explain his decision, followed the Oct. 20 recommendation of the parole board, which concluded that Campbell’s upbringing and childhood experiences “were certainly dysfunctional and no doubt traumatic” but must be weighed against the circumstances of his crime.

The board also cited the fact that Campbell had been responsible for two killings, among other offenses.

Campbell, 69, was paroled in 1992 after serving 20 years for killing a man in a Cleveland bar. On April 2, 1997, Campbell was in a wheelchair feigning paralysis when he overpowered a Franklin County sheriff’s deputy on the way to a court hearing on several armed robbery charges, records show.

Campbell took the deputy’s gun, carjacked 18-year-old Charles Dials and drove around with him for several hours before shooting him twice in the head as Dials crouched in the footwell of his own truck, according to court records.

Campbell’s attorneys have argued that Campbell is terminally ill with a variety of chronic diseases. He is unable to walk, or breathe without assistance and is dependent on a colostomy bag, according to federal public defender David Stebbins.

Kasich’s failure to consider Campbell’s physical condition or the potential for problems accessing his veins is disappointing, Stebbins said Thursday. He warned of a potential spectacle as Campbell is delivered to the execution gurney in a wheelchair.

“All of this in an attempt to execute an old and frail man who is no longer a threat to anyone,” Stebbins said. “Killing Alva Campbell is not simply not necessary.”

Campbell has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to delay his execution. Last week, he lost a bid to be executed by firing squad after a federal judge questioned whether lawmakers would enact the bill needed to allow the method.

Other inmates across the country have cited ill health as a way to avoid execution. Some have been successful, including Vernon Madison, a 66-year-old Alabama inmate with stroke-induced dementia, who was spared because he didn’t understand his death sentence or remember the killing.

But many others have not had the same success, including double killer Richard Cooey, from Ohio, who was executed in 2008 despite arguing that his obesity would prevent humane lethal injection because viable veins in his arms were difficult to find.

 

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