Friday, June 4, 2010

Ohio: Strickland Spares Nields

Governor Ted Strickland today issued the following statement regarding the pending clemency application of Richard Nields:

As a result of his conviction for aggravated murder, Mr. Richard Nields is scheduled to be executed on June 10, 2010. I have completed a review of the circumstances surrounding his case to determine if executive clemency is warranted.

On May 10, 2010, a majority of the members of the Ohio Parole Board recommended that Mr. Nields be granted a commutation of his death sentence to a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. The Parole Board majority cited three basic reasons for its recommendation: the medical testimony of Dr. Shrode, which was relied on at trial by the prosecutor and the trial judge but subsequently called into substantial question; the dissent of Justice Pfeiffer to the Ohio Supreme Court decision upholding Mr. Nields’ conviction; and the concerns expressed by the Judges of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit who affirmed Mr. Nields’ conviction but noted that ‘the circumstances of this case just barely get Nields over the death threshold under Ohio law.

In making my determination regarding Mr. Nields’ clemency application, my staff and I have reviewed the judicial decisions regarding Mr. Nields’ conviction, Mr. Nields’ application for executive clemency and its appendix, and arguments presented for and against clemency at the Parole Board hearing regarding his application for executive clemency. We also reviewed institutional records and letters received in the Governor’s Office regarding this matter, the Parole Board’s report and recommendation, and the exhibits presented at the Parole Board’s hearing. In addition, we have reviewed the materials submitted to the Governor’s Office by Mr. Nields’ counsel after the Parole Board made its recommendation.

Based on this review, I concur with the rationale and recommendation of the Ohio Parole Board majority and have, therefore, decided to commute Mr. Nields’ sentence to a term of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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