Killer Argues U.S. Supreme Court Ruling in 2016 Makes Ohio's Death Penalty Law Unconstitutional

Jan 23, 2018

A convicted killer is claiming that since the US Supreme Court struck down Florida’s capital punishment sentencing law in 2016, Ohio’s death penalty law is now unconstitutional. He’s claiming the ruling that a jury must sentence a defendant to death makes Ohio’s two-part sentencing process illegal.

Maurice Mason was convicted of raping and killing Robin Dennis in Marion in 1993. His attorney Kort Gatterdam told the Ohio Supreme Court that because juries recommend death sentences but judges then review and impose them, that makes Ohio’s law unconstitutional. “It’s not simply saying that there can be no death penalty in Ohio. It’s saying that the jury has to make the decision, and there has to be a rewrite of the statute.”

But Marion County Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Collins said the judge reviews the jury’s recommendation and can reject it but can’t increase it, which he says protects the offender. “It’s just, it’s proper, and it is constitutional.”

Mason’s death sentence was overturned by a federal court – he’s now challenging a new sentencing hearing.

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