Columbus Dispatch editors are at it again. In a Sept. 10 headline, the Big D proclaimed “Hagan wouldn’t execute child killer.” Similar headlines have appeared in the past against other disfavored politicians, usually substituting words such as “Candidate X won’t execute cop killer.” Despite the sensational nature of the Hearst-style yellow journalism headline, the article by Alan Johnson is quite revealing. The second paragraph reads: “But if Timothy F. Hagan were governor, Buell’s life would be spared — along with those of the 204 others on Ohio’s Death Row.”

Johnson explains: “Hagan, the Democratic candidate for governor, is a lifelong opponent of capital punishment on personal and religious grounds.” Johnson writes, “If elected, Hagan vows to invoke a moratorium on executions, as the governors of Illinois and Maryland have done.”

Hagan told Johnson, “I don’t think the state should take the life of an indiv-idual.” Some suggestions for Dispatch headline writers: “Hagan wants Ohio to join European Union on human rights,” “Hagan says ‘Thou shalt not kill’,” and “Hagan wants moratorium on death penalty like Illinois and Maryland.” Or, see above.

Re-try Richey! Hollywood star Susan Sarandon, who played Sr. Helen Prejean in the film “Dead Man Walking,” recently called for a new trial for Scottish national Kenny Richey who is awaiting execution on Ohio’s death row. Sarandon cited new evidence uncovered by Richey’s attorneys that cast doubt on his original conviction.

In a statement issued by Sarandon, she proclaimed, “I want to add my voice in the growing campaign to have the whole case re-examined.” Sarandon joins the European Parliament, Amnesty International, the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury, among others, in calling for a new trial. Three years ago, Pope John Paul wrote to Ohio officials asking them to spare Richey’s life.

Justice Stratton dissent says kill retarded man without review In a 6-1 ruling on August 14, the Ohio Supreme Court delayed the schedule execution of Gregg Lott. Only Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton voted to kill Lott, who scored a 72 on an Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections IQ test. The decision follows a June 20 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that individual charged with murder cannot face the death penalty if they can show they are mentally retarded. The U.S. Supreme Court held that killing the mentally retarded constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

Additionally, prosecutors failed to disclose exculpatory evidence to Lott’s attorneys. Lott was convicted of killing John McGrath. Prosecutors withheld the information that McGrath, who lived for a week after his killer’s attack and was described by physicians as alert and lucid, did not identify a police sketch of Lott as his assailant.

Appears in Issue: