CLEMENCY: Ohio Death Row Inmate Granted Clemency, Citing 'Brutally Abusive Upbringing'

On September 26, Ohio Governor John Kasich (pictured) granted clemency to Joseph Murphy, commuting his death sentence to life without parole, citing the defendant's horrific childhood. Murphy was scheduled for execution on October 18. The Ohio Parole Board had unanimously recommended sparing Murphy's life, citing evidence from Murphy's childhood that indicated he was beaten, starved and sexually abused.  The Parole Board also cited a 1992 Ohio Supreme Court decision in which late Justice Moyer said he knew of no other case in which a defendant "was as destined for disaster as was Joseph Murphy."  Governor Kasich issued the following statement regarding the clemency: "Joseph Murphy’s murder of Ruth Predmore was heinous and disturbing and he deserves—and continues to receive—severe punishment. Even though as a child and adolescent Murphy suffered uniquely severe and sustained verbal, physical and sexual abuse from those who should have loved him, it does not excuse his crime.... After examining this case in detail with counsel I agree with Chief Justice Moyer, the National Association of Mental Illness and the Parole Board’s unanimous 8-0 decision that considering Joseph Murphy’s brutally abusive upbringing and the relatively young age at which he committed this terrible crime, the death penalty is not appropriate in this case. Thus, I have commuted his sentence to life in prison with no chance for parole."

Murphy is the second death row inmate to receive clemency from Governor Kasich since he took office in January, and the eighth to be spared since Ohio resumed executions in 1999.

("Kasich spares condemned killer, cites bad childhood," Associated Press on CBSNews.com, September 27, 2011; "Kasich Commutes Murphy Death Sentence to Life Without Parole," Office of the Governor, September 26, 2011).  Ohio has carried out 45 executions since 1999, including 4 this year.  See Clemency, Innocence and Life Without Parole. Compare to the case of Jerry Jackson, who was executed in Virginia earlier in 2011.