Pursuing execution not worth costs of trial in Larry Evans..

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Pursuing execution not worth costs of trial in Larry Evans..

Post  Jennie on Sun Jun 29, 2008 7:53 pm

Attorney: Pursuing execution not worth costs of trial in Larry Evans murder case

A local defense attorney is questioning the decision to seek the death penalty against a man accused of killing his brother and a neighbor.

Eric Miller raised the issue in the case of Larry Evans, 40, of Epworth.

"The costs are substantially greater as soon as you add the death penalty specs," Miller said. "The additional cost is -- at the low end -- $100,000."

Evans is charged with two counts of aggravated murder for the early-morning Dec. 26 shootings outside his residence. Evans is accused of killing his brother, Brian Evans, 37, a Mansfield police officer; and his neighbor, Robert Houseman, 44.

The former corrections officer at Mansfield Correctional Institution also allegedly shot his sister-in-law and sister, who sustained non life-threatening injuries.

Evans qualifies for the death penalty because there were 2 victims and one was a police officer in the line of duty.

That's not enough for Miller.

"You shouldn't seek the death penalty every time that a simplistic view of the elements shows you've got it," he said. "You save it for the very worst offenders."

Richland County First Assistant Prosecutor Brent Robinson said he couldn't respond to questions, "because of Ohio ethical rules, we cannot comment on a pending criminal trial."

Miller sent letters to various local officials, including county commissioners, with his concerns, but got no response.

Commissioner Gary Utt acknowledged he, Ed Olson and Tim Wert have received Miller's letter but haven't discussed it. He said he didn't feel prepared to comment.

When asked if justice has a price, Miller said the county puts a price on it "almost daily."

"Plea bargaining is often influenced by cost," he said. "Indicted criminals who are picked up out of state are not always extradited because of transportation costs.

"People who violate their probation often get another chance because of the cost of incarceration. Criminals with medical problems often get probation because of the cost of treatment."

Miller said he is not against the death penalty.

He maintains the ultimate consequence should be reserved for the worst of the worst. He said he doesn't think Larry Evans fits in that category.

"How does he compare to the murderers, the ones who really scare citizens, those who plan their crime over a substantial period of time and go about it in a very cold-blooded way?" Miller asked.

Miller wonders if Evans has mental health issues. Prosecutors asked for a $1 million cash bond in part because of psychiatric problems. Evans surrendered more than three hours after the shootings, unarmed and naked.

Evans has been declared competent to stand trial after an evaluation by a forensic psychologist.

Miller said he's not saying the state can't get a death penalty sentence in the trial, which is scheduled to start Sept. 2.

"(But) I don't think it will hold up under repeated appeals," he said. "At some point, someone's going to say, 'You fell short of the emotional requirements.' "

(source: Mansfield News Journal)

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