ADA — Dick Celeste's younger brother remembers how the former Ohio governor struggled with capital punishment cases. Now a state legislator from suburban Columbus, Ted Celeste is pushing a law that would keep future governors from having to face the same ordeal.“Killing somebody to prove you shouldn't kill somebody just doesn't make sense to me,” said state Rep. Ted Celeste, D-Grandview Heights, while speaking Tuesday at Ohio Northern University's Pettit College of Law.Celeste is sponsoring House Bill 160, which would do away with death sentences in Ohio. Known popularly as the “Execute Justice” bill, H.B. 160 would replace capital punishment with a life sentence and no chance for parole.Celeste polled his audience made up mostly of law students. More than half said they were opposed to the death penalty; others said they were opposed except in extreme cases.“This is an unusual mix,” Celeste said. “Generally if you ask that question, are you for or against, in a public opinion poll, you get about 60 percent in favor, 40 against. But if you change the question a bit — if you ask, are you for the death penalty or are you for life without parole as an alternative, it flips.”Celeste first was elected to the statehouse in 2006, when Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat, was pro-death penalty. It was not a good time to pursue legislation his party's governor would oppose.In 2010, when Gov. John Kasich became governor, Kasich pledged to cut government costs by any means including sentencing reforms. Celeste said he tried to persuade Kasich it costs far less to prosecute life sentences than it does to carry out executions. Depending on the state and the case, it costs from twice as much to 10 times as much to carry a capital case to completion, he said.“His response was that he'd given it a lot of thought. He said, ‘I got down on my hands and knees and prayed about it,'” Celeste said, adding Kasich said he was at peace about signing death warrants.“Someone had just given me a book by a former governor, Mike DeSalle from Toledo,” Celeste said. “And his book was about how he'd done the same thing, got down on his hands and knees and prayed about it, and he got a different message.”Celeste gave the book to Kasich. Kasich assured Celeste he would do everything he could to make sure no mistakes are made, Celeste said.“Obviously, it was weighing on him,” Celeste added.Besides the cost, other arguments against capital punishment include:•Recent advancement in DNA tests that have demonstrated the presence of wrongful convictions.•Questions raised about equal treatment.•The unsupported belief that capital punishment serves as a deterrent.A year ago, U.S. District Judge Gregory Frost delayed the execution of Kevin Smith, citing the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction's failure to explicitly adhere to its execution policies. Frost called the state's lethal-injection procedures “haphazard” and “an embarrassment.”Frost reversed his ruling after Ohio revised its policy.A week ago, Frost rejected a motion for a temporary restraining order for Mark Wiles, who is scheduled to be put to death April 18.There are 155 inmates on Ohio's death row, Celeste said. Had it not been for Frost's moratorium, Ohio would have passed Texas to become the leading state for executions.You can comment on this story at www.limaohio.com.
Tara Cutlip, 21 and pregnant with her second child, was shot and killed Saturday in her Bahama Drive home. Loved ones gather in front of Tara's home to remember her and speak out against domestic violence.