Sweeping changes in how Ohio handles capital punishment, including banning executions of the mentally ill, requiring DNA evidence or a videotaped confession and reserving the death penalty for the “worst of the worst” crimes, are among recommendations to be finalized by the Ohio Supreme Court Death Penalty Task Force, reports the Columbus Dispatch. The 22-member panel also could recommend creating a statewide “capital litigation fund” to pay for death-penalty cases and eliminating certain crimes from the possibility of a death sentence, including kidnapping, rape, aggravated arson, aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary.
The task force is scheduled to meet today to finalize its report, wrapping up more than two years of review of how Ohio prosecutes and administers the death penalty. It was convened by Ohio Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor and the Ohio State Bar Association and includes judges, prosecutors, defense lawyers, the Ohio public defender, state lawmakers and law professors. A draft task-force report said that the panel “was specifically instructed not to review whether Ohio should or should not have the death penalty.” One major proposal would mean murderers in Ohio could face the death penalty only if the prosecution has DNA or biological evidence, a videotaped confession or another video recording that”conclusively links the defendant to the murder.”