September 27, 2011 / 12:10 AM / 8 years ago

Ohio governor commutes sentence of death row inmate

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Reuters) - Ohio’s Republican Governor John Kasich on Monday commuted the death sentence of convicted killer Joseph Murphy to life without the possibility of parole, his second such action in the past three months.

The application of Ohio’s death penalty came under question in July when a federal judge issued a stay of execution for another inmate and called the state’s practices haphazard.

In commuting his sentence, Kasich called Murphy’s 1987 murder of Ruth Predmore, 72, “heinous and disturbing,” but the death penalty inappropriate given a brutal upbringing and relatively young age at the time of the crime.

Murphy was 21 when he stabbed Predmore in the neck during a robbery, severing the carotid arteries and jugular vein. His execution had been scheduled for October 18 and the Ohio Parole Board had recommended that his sentence be commuted.

“Even though as a child and adolescent Murphy suffered uniquely severe and sustained verbal, physical and sexual abuse from those who should have loved him, it does not excuse his crime,” Kasich said in a statement.

Kasich commuted another inmate’s death sentence to life in June and has delayed other executions. A joint state Supreme Court and bar association task force is planned to review the state’s administration of the death penalty.

The task force will not address whether the state should or should not have a death penalty.

Ohio has executed four men in 2011, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. Thirty-six people have been executed in the United States so far this year.

Reporting by Jim Leckrone and David Bailey; Editing by Greg McCune

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