Select Page New Report: Phillips, 19 at the time he committed his crime, had the intellectual functioning of a juvenile, had a father who sexually abused him, and grew up a victim of and a witness to unspeakable physical abuse — information his trial lawyers never learned or presented to a jury. At least 17 out of the 26 men experienced serious childhood trauma — horrifying instances of extensive physical and sexual abuse.
At least six men appear to suffer from a mental illness, and at least 11 have evidence of intellectual disability, borderline intellectual disability, or a cognitive impairment, including brain injury. Many of these men fall within several of these categories, which compounds the impairments.
And several had lawyers who conducted little to no investigation at both the trial and post-conviction phase or failed to seek the assistance of psychologists and other experts, despite the presence of familial mental illness, which is often hereditary. Therefore, in those cases, we know very little about existing impairments, even though execution dates are looming. The individuals identified here have been convicted of horrible crimes, and they must be held to account. But the evidence suggests that Ohio has not met its constitutional obligation.
It is instead planning to execute nearly two dozen individuals with substantial impairments, rather than reserving the punishment for those with the greatest culpability. Below, we describe some of the stories we uncovered while researching these 26 Ohio cases.
We have grouped them by category of impairment which includes serious trauma, mental illness and intellectual disability, and youth. These distinctions, however, are artificial — many of these men have heartbreaking stories falling within multiple categories. Our brains are altered. Tibbetts and his siblings were subjected to beatings, all documented by the social workers. When he was finally removed, Ohio placed him in group homes and orphanages. His mother, Victoria Coley, suffered from a debilitating mental illness, paranoid schizophrenia with borderline personality disorder, and likely intellectual disability, with an IQ between She testified that Victoria was: Davis also accused Victoria of having sex with her own children.
Dixon would remain locked up before receiving parole should the jury spare his life. Adams eventually lived in 11 different foster homes,  during which he suffered additional abuse. These cases present similar concerns about lessened culpability and an inability to help counsel develop a compelling mitigation case. Six, if not more, suffer from a mental illness, and some of these men have a dual-diagnosis. For this reason, legislatures across the country have proposed bills to preclude the imposition of the death penalty for those who suffer from these impairments.
In , an Ohio task force recommended enacting legislation to make those who suffer from serious mental illness ineligible for the death penalty. Even though his IQ is a devastatingly low 69, his trial attorneys did not mount this defense, which today would make him categorically ineligible for the death penalty. Frazier social security benefits based on a mental retardation diagnosis.
Sneed and his siblings were then placed in foster care. For this reason, a trial court in Kentucky recently found the death penalty was unconstitutional for those who committed their crimes before turning His record shows just how much an individual can change once his brain develops.
The government alleged that both Montgomery and his friend, Glover Heard, committed the charged murder, but the only person to clearly implicate Montgomery was Heard, who testified in exchange for a lenient plea deal. The only exceptions are the three men who refused to allow defense attorneys to present mitigating evidence — we simply do not know about their backgrounds, however, our experience tells us that their stories are likely not dissimilar from those highlighted in this report.
Unless the Governor or a Court intervenes, over the course of the next two years, Ohio is poised to violate that constitutional limitation by scheduling the executions of nearly a dozen individuals with devastating impairments, including mental illness, childhood abuse, and intellectual disability.
About the Fair Punishment Project The Fair Punishment Project is helping to create a fair and accountable justice system through legal action, public discourse, and educational initiatives.
A number of individual and institutional donors support our work, including Open Philanthropy Project and Vital Projects Fund. Sources  See Phillips v. Indeed, whatever effort our society now devotes to the prevention and prosecution of child abuse derives in large part out of the recognition that such early traumatic experiences can tragically alter the life course of those who are victimized by them. Crocker, Childhood Abuse and Adult Murder: Implications for the Death Penalty, 77 N.