Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Taft denies clemency for man facing execution

Governor: Inmate 'unrepentant' in girl's rape, murder

By The Associated Press

        COLUMBUS — Gov. Bob Taft refused Monday to stop the execution of a man convicted of raping and strangling an 11-year-old girl 20 years ago.

        Robert Buell, 62, is scheduled to die by injection Wednesday. His lawyers have asked the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati for a delay.

        The Ohio Parole Board had unanimously recommended that Mr. Taft reject clemency. Mr. Taft could have reduced Buell's sentence to life in prison.

        “In spite of the overwhelming evidence of his guilt, Mr. Buell is unrepentant and has failed to accept responsibility for the death,” Mr. Taft said in a statement.

        Four men have been executed since Mr. Taft took office in 1999. He denied clemency each time.

        Mr. Buell, a former Akron city worker who lived in Clinton, was convicted of killing Krista Harrison, who was kidnapped July 17, 1982, from a park across the street from her home in Marshallville in northeast Ohio. Her body was found six days later along a country road.

        His lawyers claimed prosecutors withheld evidence that witnesses had been hypnotized, but state and federal appeals courts have ruled prosecutors did not act improperly and the witnesses were not crucial to Mr. Buell's conviction.

        Mr. Taft noted that for 18 years the highest state and federal courts have reviewed and upheld Mr. Buell's conviction and sentence, finding that he received a fair trial and had adequate legal representation.

        “I find that the aggravating circumstances and brutality of this crime, as well as Mr. Buell's other extensive and violent conduct, outweigh any mitigating factors, and I can find no compelling reason to grant clemency in this case,” Mr. Taft said.


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