Tuesday, November 4, 1997
Killer Doan sweet, jurors told

BY LISA DONOVAN
The Cincinnati Enquirer

WILMINGTON, Ohio - Friends, family and even a junior high school teacher described convicted killer Vincent Doan on Monday as a sweet boyfriend, helpful neighbor and polite young man.

Mr. Doan, 25, of Blanchester, will be sentenced this week in a Clinton County courtroom for the August 1996 slaying of girlfriend Carrie Culberson. On Monday, defense attorneys called 17 witnesses to testify on Mr. Doan's behalf - hoping the judge will send him to prison and not the death chamber.

''He'd drop me off flowers . . . bring me milkshakes,'' Tammy Travillo said, describing her courtship with Mr. Doan.

She said the pair, who began dating in 1992, went to movies and dinner. He was always respectful, never abusive, she said.

The testimony is in sharp contrast to testimony in his monthlong trial last summer, in which Mr. Doan was portrayed as an obsessive, abusive boyfriend who kidnapped and killed Ms. Culberson early Aug. 29, 1996. In the end, jurors found him guilty of aggravated murder, making him eligible for the death penalty.

Now those jurors must decide whether Mr. Doan should serve a prison sentence or die for his crime.

Friends and family said he was polite, addressing his elders as ''sir'' and ''ma'am,'' willing to help someone with car troubles and tackling a disabling injury with grace.

''He doesn't tell anybody he's in pain,'' said Betty Baker, Mr. Doan's stepmother. Mr. Doan wiped awaytears as Mrs. Baker recalled the 1992 accident in which he nearly lost his leg and a friend died.

The doctor who treated Mr. Doan also testified. Dr. Angelo Colosemo talked about 29 office visits Mr. Doan made and his four surgeries.

During a break in Monday's testimony, John Rion, Mr. Doan's attorney, said he wants to let the jurors know that Mr. Doan endured a lot more than a bad relationship - and never became angry or violent in those situations.

Slices of Mr. Doan's troubled relationship with Ms. Culberson emerged when Mr. Doan's uncle took the stand.

John Frasier recalled Ms. Culberson calling his home and leaving curt messages for Mr. Doan on the answering machine.

He also recalled overhearing Ms. Culberson scold Mr. Doan about the engagement ring he gave her.

''I don't think she liked the style of the ring, the size of the ring,'' Mr. Frasier said.

From his observations, Mr. Doan was ''sad,'' not angry or violent.

Prosecutors don't plan to call any witnesses; sentencing provisions in capital cases prevent family and friends of Ms. Culberson from giving victim-impact statements.

Debra Culberson has already said she thinks Mr. Doan should die for his crimes.

Testimony is expected to wrap up today, with Mr. Doan making a statement, pleading for his life.

The jurors will deliberate and recommend a sentence to Common Pleas Judge William McCracken, who ultimately hands down the sentence.