Monday, November 3, 1997
Doan to talk before sentencing

BY LISA DONOVAN
The Cincinnati Enquirer

WILMINGTON, Ohio - Before he is sentenced, Vincent Doan plans to state his innocence to the same jurors who found him guilty of capital murder for killing girlfriend Carrie Culberson.

Mr. Doan will be back in a Clinton County courtroom today as jurors reconvene to decide whether he should die or serve a prison term. But before the jurors make their recommendation to Common Pleas Judge William McCracken, who ultimately decides his fate, Mr. Doan plans to tell them what he didn't during last summer's trial: He's innocent.

''He plans to get up and make an unsworn statement of innocence to them,'' said John Rion, Mr. Doan's attorney.

Debra Culberson, Carrie's mother, said Mr. Doan is not only guilty, but also should receive the death penalty for killing her daughter.

''I want to see justice served; I want Vince to pay for what he's done to Carrie and what he's done to us. He's taken something irreplaceable from us.''

Carrie Culberson has not been seen since she was in the throes of a violent argument with Mr. Doan on the streets of their hometown, Blanchester, early Aug. 29, 1996.

Mr. Doan, 25, was found guilty Aug. 7 of kidnapping and murdering Ms. Culberson, 22, that morning. Normally, sentencing is 10 days to a month after the trial. Because he brought in the state public defender to help with the penalty phase and appeals of the case, Mr. Rion had argued more preparation time was necessary.

During the penalty phase, the defense and prosecution will have an opportunity to call witnesses to testify about Mr. Doan's character.

Though County Prosecutor William Peelle said he doesn't plan to call any witnesses, Mr. Rion expects 20 to 25 witnesses to take the stand and testify on behalf of Mr. Doan.

That's in addition to Mr. Doan making his statement to the jurors - off the witness stand. If he did take the stand, under oath, Mr. Doan would be subject to cross-examination.

Mr. Doan was found guilty of aggravated murder, with the kidnapping being the aggravating circumstance.

Jurors will make a recommendation after studying the aggravating circumstances and the mitigating factors. If they find the aggravating circumstances are of greater weight, they must recommend death, according to state law.

The penalty phase of this trial, which begins today, is scheduled to last a week.