law is heating up as the state is about to try its second capital case in a
The debate over Ohio's death penalty laws is heating up, just as Butler County
is about to try its second capital case in less than a year.
What police say was a random act of violence ended the life of an elderly
Middletown man last May. The suspect in his slaying, Victor Gantt, faces a
possible death sentence when his trial begins Tuesday.
In the past 5 years, Butler County has had 8 cases that qualified for the death
penalty. Most recently, a jury spared Hector Alvarenga-Retana's life after his
murder trial last November. He was convicted of killing of 2 rival gang
members. Warren County hasn't had a death penalty case since 2008, after Michel
Veillette murdered his family in Mason. He committed suicide in jail before the
case went to trial.
Gantt is accused of beating 75-year-old Leroy Jones to death with an ax. Police
said Gantt broke through a glass door, attacked Jones and then trashed his
Assistant Prosecutor Brad Burress says because the slaying occurred while Gantt
was allegedly robbing and burglarizing Jones, the case qualifies as a capital
Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser declined to comment on the Gantt case.
Ohio has become a focal point because one of the senior members of the Supreme
Court, Justice Paul Pfeifer - who helped draft the 1st constitutional death
penalty laws in the state - has publicly opposed the death penalty. Now
Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters has asked the justice to recuse himself
in all death penalty cases and any case from his jurisdiction. Pfeifer has made
comments about the large number of death row inmates that hail from Hamilton
(source: Associated Press)