YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — The Ohio Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence for a man convicted of fatally beating a Youngstown woman in a wheelchair and then setting her on fire.

In an opinion released Wednesday, the court ruled 6-0 to uphold the sentence handed down by Judge Maureen Sweeney to Lance Hundley, 50, of Warren, who was convicted in May 2018 in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court of the Nov. 5, 2015, death of Erika Huff in her Cleveland Street home.

Jurors recommended that Hundley receive the death penalty because they found he acted with prior calculation and design. Judge Sweeney upheld their recommendation.

The high court in its ruling found that Hundley did act with prior calculation and design, saying that the fatal beating Huff received was prolonged and that jurors could have inferred that Hundley waited until a visiting nurse left to attack Huff, who was in a wheelchair because of multiple sclerosis.

Police and fire crews were called to the home early Nov. 5, 2015, for a medical alarm. The home was on fire and police found Huff’s body and her mother, who was unconscious because of a severe beating she received from Hundley.

Hundley refused to come out of the home. Police went in while the home was on fire and dragged him out.

Huff’s mother later recovered from her injuries and testified against Hundley at his trial.
Detectives used DNA evidence and gasoline on Hundley’s clothes to help build their case.

At trial, Hundley said he fell asleep and woke up to someone attacking him and he was “choked out,” and passed out. Hundley said when he woke up he saw someone inside the home with a gas can.

Hundley went through multiple sets of court-appointed lawyers on the case.

The high court also ruled that there was sufficient evidence to convict Hundley.

Sitting on death row