Ex-inmates say innocent men remain on Death Row

From: Columbus Dispatch, April 12th, 2013

Derrick Jamison has moved to Louisiana since his 2005 release from Ohio’s Death Row. But the former Cincinnati resident said he is compelled to return by memories of the men he saw put to death during the 20 years he spent behind bars after being wrongly convicted.

“I watched so many of my friends get murdered. It still haunts me to this day,” he told a group gathered yesterday at Capital University Law School. “They grew up to be strong, healthy young men taken up out of their cells and murdered, strapped down on a gurney … and poison shot into their blood.

“That’s why we do what we do. That’s why we got to speak out … I’m coming back to fight for my people, the guys I left behind on Death Row.”

Jamison, 52; Dale Johnston, 79, of the Grove City area; and Joe D’Ambrosio, 51, of North Olmstead, are part of a statewide “Innocence Tour” sponsored by Ohioans to Stop Executions and Witness to Innocence.
Jamison was convicted in the 1984 death of Cincinnati bartender Gary Mitchell. Johnston was exonerated in 1990 after serving seven years in the dismemberment slayings of his stepdaughter, Annette Cooper, and her friend Todd Schultz in Hocking County. D’Ambrosio was imprisoned nearly 23 years in the 1988 murder of 19-year-old Anthony Klann of Cleveland.

All three men said investigators improperly withheld witnesses or other evidence that could have exonerated them or implicated others in the crimes.

“Hopefully, we can open up some eyes and minds to what is going on in this state because somebody’s got to do something,” D’Ambrosio said. “They’re murdering people in your name. And they’re innocent.”
The men are among six Ohio Death Row inmates who were released after taking an average of 17 years to prove they were wrongfully convicted, said Kevin Werner, the executive director of Ohioans to Stop Executions. Nationwide, 142 Death Row inmates have been released. It took an average of 9.5 years to prove their cases.

Werner urged judicial and legislative leaders to review capital-punishment cases for evidence of ineffective defense attorneys, withheld evidence and other signs of improper convictions.

“I think they ought to review every single individual case on Death Row and look for reasons to say, ‘Maybe we made a mistake’ instead of ‘Let’s just maintain the status quo, uphold convictions, move on,’  ” he said.

Ohio has executed 50 people since it resumed the practice in 1999.

Read the rest here.

Governor John Kasich and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine: Stop the execution of Ronald Post

Ed., Dec. 18 2012: The governor has commuted the sentence of Ronald post to LWOP.

Please sign this petition to stop this execution here:

Petition by Voices for Death Row Inmates
Ronald Post is due to be executed on 16 January 2013 by the State of Ohio.

There has been worldwide news on this man because he is morbidly obese, and an execution with someone of 480 pounds would be cruel and unusual punishment.

However that is not the whole story. Post has always denied the shooting of Helen Vantz.

We have every sympathy for the Vantz family but we feel it is important the whole story is told about this case, for their sake also.

On November 20 2012, Post stated in front of a parole board that he and other two men had plotted to commit robbery, yet he ended up not participating.

Huffington Post quotes his attorney saying he only found out about the fact that they went through with it from the newspaper, in a 1984 statement.

In a parole board interview, Mr Post identified one of those men, Ralph Hall, as the shooter.

Post is the only criminal defendant in the state — and possibly the country — to receive the death penalty after pleading no contest.
Post may not have been aware of the consequences of the plea after being advised by a court-appointed attorney that one of the judges hearing the case would not imposed the death penalty because of religious scruples

The prosecution’s case was based on seven unreliable witness accounts.

Evidence has been with held.

Ronald was told by attorneys to enter a no contest plea by his attorneys and was not tried. He had a panel of three judges at a hearing.

Ronald Post’s original defence counsel were Michael Duff and Lynett McGough.

However, a long-standing feud between Duff and McGough is thought to be the reason Duff was removed another case.

McGough and Duff served as co-counsel on the case of Ronald Ray Post, who was sentenced to death for the 1983 aggravated murder- robbery of an Elyria motel clerk, and the allegations which emerged from the case threatened to tarnish the reputation of both.

But Mike Duff, one of Post’s attorneys at the time of the plea, said he was sorry to hear that an execution date had been set for his former client.

“It’s a sad day,” Duff said. “I’m upset, but the blood for that is on attorney McGough’s hands, not mine.”

McGough testified in a later hearing that the judges all told her they wouldn’t consider the no-contest plea as a mitigating factor in the case, but one judge, the late Adrian Betleski, had moral reservations about imposing the death penalty because of his Catholic faith, according to a U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals decision that upheld Post’s death sentence.

“She said Betleski would not do it and I believed her,” Duff said.

There are serious problems with how Post has been defended and advised from the start of this case.

Ineffectiveness of Counsel is a huge issue in this case.

The defense counsel also allowed a victim-impact statement, made by Vantz’s son, to be included in the report, when it wasn’t required and negatively affected the outcome of the case.

Jailhouse testimony was also used against Post. The snitch was recruited by prosecutors to get the confession without a defense attorney present, which is against Ohio law.

There are also at least one other potential suspect in this case!

It would be wrong to go ahead with this execution because there are too many questions to be answered. 

Governor John Kasich please grant clemency to Ronald Post, so that he can have all his evidence presented to a court in its entirety for the first time in almost 30 years

Sign here please:

Ohio: Stop the execution of a possibly innocent man!

Received via Ohioans To Stop Executions group and added a letter which was sent earlier as sample:

Brett Hartmann is due to be executed by the State of Ohio on November 13th. Brett has evidence which has never been heard in court. He has evidence of innocence.

We cannot allow Ohio to kill a man with evidence of innocence. We cannot just sit back and do nothing to try to stop this.

Please see this site to see the evidence:

Then WRITE letters, emails and faxes to the addresses below, including the newspaper email addresses. Let ALL these people know that the world is watching. Tell them where in the world you are.

 Please also forward this message to your friends and groups.


 Thank you  
                                                                            Date: ….
Dear Governor Kasich,

My name is …, I am from …, and my concern is the upcoming execution of Brett Hartmann #357869 on November 13th
I have read Brett’s website, run by his sister, and there is also a YouTube film about his situation.

About the case:

          There was testimony by a jailhouse snitch involved, someone who will become better off when he lies on the stand.

          Much of Mr Hartmann’s case has not been able to be looked at on appeal because post- conviction attorneys missed crucial filing dates.

          Prosecution/police indicted Brett and then went to collect new-found evidence, thinking this would prove guilt. Even though  this “big break” turned out to be nothing, they had already indicted Brett and released it to the media, they then went ahead with his trial. So maybe it was to “save their faces?”

          When Brett went to trial he faced  a prosecutorwho was well known to be overzealous, and would try to win at all costs. She was also known to over- indict, violate disclosure rules, withhold evidence, and then target defense attorneys who opposed her.

          Mr Hartmann had a defense team that did little to nothing to defend him. Never asking or accepting Mr Hartmann’s side of events, saying that they preferred to let the evidence tell them what happened, and then relied on the “State’s  evidence” for trial.

          The crux of the state’s case relied on erroneous blood spatter-evidence in regard to Mr Hartmann’s t-shirt, and the testimony of a man who has misrepresented his credentials, who manipulated data,  is facing ethics charges, and under  suspicion due to  evidence that had been altered while in his chain of  custody.

          In addition to this, the state also cites the jail house snitch testimony as one of the key factors in Mr Hartmann’s conviction. His testimony at trial did not match the crime.  Yet, the state also cites this jail house snitch testimony as one of the key factors in Brett’s conviction.

          Brett’s alibi:At the time of the crime, Brett Hartmann was at home. There are phone records showing that he was there, making and receiving calls from his home during the time of the crime.
The person who he had been talking to on the phone testified in court to that effect.  A family member was able to testify that they witnessed him home at the time in question. Both of these testimonies were discredited at  trial when the coroner tailored his testimony about the time of death, which we now have the documents to show.

          Justice Pfeiffer stated, “The record does not contain proof beyond a reasonable doubt that a kidnapping occurred.”  “I would reverse the kidnapping conviction and felony murder conviction and vacate the sentence of death”.

While the court may agree that Brett Hartmann’s defense council made mistakes, they do not consider this “Gross Negligence”.  Yet Brett Hartmann may be executed due to these mistakes, many issues were not brought up on appeal because of  missed filing dates.

Brett Hartmann means a lot to me and many others. He has friends around the world who see his soul and who know he is gentle, friendly, humane, wise and very humble. Brett Hartmann, like every human being, needs to be kept alive.

Dear Governor, please do not have the execution take place. There is too much doubt, there are too many failures of the court and prosecution to make this case 100% certainly guilty. There is no way the death can ever be turned, it is absolute. No one will receive “relief,” or “closure.”  There is no justice in killing someone.

Please consider these arguments, and please use your conscience to decide. I am praying for you in this most difficult life-and-death decision. God be with you in guiding you. Life is everything. Please do not let anyone take it away.

Thank you for your time to read this and think about this.

Yours faithfully,
[name and address]

Website made by Brett Hartmann’s sister:
What you can do:
Send a similar letters to:
Governor John Kasich
 77 S. High St.
Columbus OH 43266-0601
Fax: 614-466-9354
Ohio’s Attorney General
 Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine
 State Office Tower
30 E. Broad St.
17th Floor
Columbus, Oh 43215-3428                       
Tel. (614) 466-4320           
Ohio State Senators:

 Sherrod Brown
WASHINGTON DC 20510                      
Tel.  (202) 224-2315          
Congressman Tim Ryan
Washington D.C. Office
1421 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
phone: 202-225-5261          
fax: 202-225-3719
Akron Beacon Journal
Send emails without attachments to:
You must include your name, address and phone number to be considered for publication.

Youngstown Vindicator:

Cincinnati Herald

All columns and editorial submissions are due by Friday at 5 p.m., a week prior to publication, and sent to: newsthecincinnatiherald@yahoo.com
Website for Brett Hartman:

You can also sign the online petition: