Ohio Gov. John Kasich spared the life of a condemned killer on Monday night, saying the horrific abuse the inmate experienced as a child directly influenced his future behavior.
Joseph Murphy, 46, of Marion was scheduled to be executed on Oct. 18 for the slaying of 72-year-old Ruth Predmore. Murphy reportedly slit Predmore's throat during a home robbery in 1987. He has also threatened Predmore with an extortion note days before the crime occurred.
Despite the brutal crime -- which The Columbus Dispatch described as heinous and disturbing -- last week, the Ohio Parole Board unanimously recommended clemency in Murphy's case due to the extreme abuse and neglect inflicted on him by his parents while he was growing up in West Virginia. Murphy was reportedly beaten, starved and sexually abused during his formative years.
The board also cited a decision by the Ohio Supreme Court in 1992 in regard to Murphy's case. Although the court upheld the death sentence by a 4-3 vote, Chief Justice Thomas Moyer -- a death penalty supporter -- voted against capital punishment for Murphy, saying he did not know of any other case in which a defendant was as destined for disaster as was Joseph Murphy.
In a statement, Kasich also said Murphy was also diagnosed as borderline mentally retarded by the National Association of Mental Illness.
After examining this case in detail with counsel I agree with Chief Justice Moyer, the National Association of Mental Illness and the Parole Board's unanimous 8-0 decision that considering Joseph Murphy's brutally abusive upbringing and the relatively young age at which he committed this terrible crime, the death penalty is not appropriate in this case, Kasich said.
Kasich said he commuted Murphy's death sentence to life in prison for no chance for parole.
When Murphy was informed of the state's clemency decision, The Columbus Dispatch reportsd he said it was the best news I had in my whole life. Finally, somebody has given me a chance.
Kasich's decision marked the fifth time since June that an Ohio execution has either been postponed or called off. It represents a sharp contrast to states such as Texas, which has executed 11 death row inmates this year, significantly more than any other state in the nation.