Ohio Supreme Court upholds death sentence

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Ohio Supreme Court upholds death sentence

Post  Jennie on Tue Jun 17, 2008 11:39 pm

Ohio Supreme Court upholds death sentence of Toledo man for role in Lucasville prison riot

The Ohio Supreme Court Tuesday unanimously upheld the conviction and death sentence of James Were who ordered the murder of a prison guard hostage in the heat of the 1993 Lucasville prison riot.

"Were was one of the leaders of the Lucasville prison riot," wrote Justice Paul Pfeifer. "He helped remove Officer [Robert] Vallandingham from the bathroom where he was hiding and took him to the L-6 cell block, where he was locked up.

"On April 15, 1993, Were advocated that a prison guard be killed to demonstrate that the inmates’ demands should be taken seriously," he wrote. "Were then supervised the group of inmates who strangled Vallandingham in the L-6 shower. These facts establish a horrific crime without any mitigating factors."

Were, 51, was imprisoned for a Lucas County aggravated robbery at the Southern Ohio Correctional Institution on April 11, 1993 when a Muslim gang of which he was a leader started the riot. The gang was soon joined by members of the Aryan Brotherhood and the Black Gangster Disciples.

Mr. Vallandingham’s body was removed from the recreation yard on April 15.

"You can come get your boy… He’s out there, and you didn’t take us serious," Were told negotiators. "And from this point on… you’ll take us serious."

The last hostages were released on April 21, 1993.

He was convicted and sentenced to be executed for his role in Vallandingham’s death, but the state Supreme Court in 2003 overturned his conviction because the trial court failed to hold a competency hearing.

On retrial, the trial court held two competency hearings and ultimately found Were to be competent to stand trial, despite some defense testimony that he was mildly retarded.

This time the Supreme Court upheld the trial court’s determination.

(source: Toledo Blade)

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