Monday, November 15, 2010

Ohio Governor Commutes Death Sentence

Execution Would Have Been the Last Under Governor Strickland

Ohio Governor Ted Strickland has spared the life of Sidney Cornwell, a killer scheduled to be executed tomorrow. Cornwell's sentence will be commuted to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

According to the Associated Press, the Ohio Parole Board had recommended against mercy for Cornwell, but Strickland said jurors might have chosen a different sentence if they had known of the condition, called Klinefelter Syndrome. The condition caused Cornwell to develop motor and language skills late and gave him large breasts as a boy, which led to repeated teasing.

Cornwell, of Youngstown, was scheduled to die by lethal injection for the killing of Jessica Ballew. The girl was on her porch in Youngstown in 1996 as Cornwell and other Crips gang members were hunting for a member of the Bloods a rival gang. He opened fire on people who apparently knew his intended victim, killing the girl, reported the Associated Press.

Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul Gains said he did not believe Cornwell deserved mercy. "Although I disagree with the governor's decision, I respect his right to make that decision," Gains told the Associated Press.

Seventeen men have been put to death since Governor Strickland took office in 2007. The eight men executed this year is the most in a single year since Ohio re-instituted the death penalty in 1999.

Cornwell is the third death row inmate this year to be spared by the governor. Cornwell is the last inmate to face the death penalty with Strickland as governor. Governor Strickland was defeated in his bid for re-election earlier this month.

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