UD Law explains how death penalty trial could be costly

Judge in Harvey Lee Jones death penalty case has jurors sign media waiver (WDTN Photo/Josh Ames).
Judge in Harvey Lee Jones death penalty case has jurors sign media waiver (WDTN Photo/Josh Ames).

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Harvey Lee Jones, 37, if convicted.  The double-murder suspect is accused of killing 29-year-old Demetrius Beckwith and 32-year-old Carly Hughley in January 2013. Harvey is believed to be Hughley’s ex-boyfriend.

It happened the morning of Jan. 24, 2013 at the Catalpa Crossing apartments on Turner Road in Harrison Township. Hughley’s then-10-year-old son was in the apartment when the shootings took place and ran to a neighbor’s house to get help.  Harvey was initially indicted on charges of murder, kidnapping and robbery charges.

University of Dayton law school Associate Dean Lori Shaw said death penalty-eligible cases tend to take longer because of all the legal procedures involved.  She said it’s really at the discretion of the prosecutors, throughout the state, whether or not to seek the death penalty.

When it comes to imposing the penalty that can take even longer.  Shaw said Ohio is currently in a holding pattern carrying out the punishment with death row inmates, primarily because the state does not have the proper drugs needed to conduct a death by lethal injection.

Shaw also said more and more prosecutors are opting not to seek the death penalty for economic reasons and therefore it takes a really heinous crime for them to pursue.

“It cost so much to try to death penalty case or a case with the death penalty specification that prosecutors say if we’re spending money on that, we don’t have the money to spend on other trials that we would like to move forward, so you really are seeing numbers in Ohio and nationwide go down for that practical reason,” Shaw said.

Accordingly, she stated that the amount of time, resources plus years of appeals associated with a death penalty case, is actually more costly to execute an inmate than it is to sentence them to life in prison.

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