Former Mahoning County Judge Peter Economus, now a federal judge, said that if defense attorneys had presented more reasons why Eley should have been spared, he wouldn’t have voted in favor of a death sentence.
It’s not unusual for judges or prosecutors to change their minds about individual cases or the death penalty itself, but the on-the-record testimony on behalf of a condemned inmate of the kind given by Mr. Van Brocklin is relatively rare.
The three parole board members who supported Eley’s plea for mercy said he is not the “worst of the worst” killers and argued that many similar convenience store robbers who committed more serious crimes escaped death sentences.
They also said the crime wouldn’t have happened without Green. And they argued that Eley was a victim of a game by prosecutors as they threatened him with a death sentence to force his testimony against Green.
“The prosecutors ‘played a bluff’ all the way to the end, and when Eley did not cooperate, they were stuck with the death penalty conviction,” the three dissenting members said.
Green, 54, is in prison and scheduled for release in October on charges he illegally carried a concealed weapon, had a gun in a car and possession of drugs. But he also faces the possibility of additional time for violating parole on a prior aggravated robbery conviction, according to state prison records. Those charges are unrelated to the Eley case.
In September, Mr. Kasich spared Joseph Murphy from execution for slashing a woman’s throat in a 1987 robbery, citing the prisoner’s horrific childhood and concerns about Murphy’s mental health.
In June, Mr. Kasich spared Shawn Hawkins, saying that he had no doubt the inmate was involved in a 1989 double killing but that the details of his participation were “frustratingly unclear.”
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