WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins is asking the Supreme Court of Ohio to set an execution date for convicted murderer Danny Lee Hill.
This comes after a motion was filed by the Federal Public Defender’s Office to reconsider the case, even though the Supreme Court recently said they will not hear it. Again, the motion brings up Hill’s mental capacity when he murdered 12-year-old Raymond Fife in 1985.
Watkins has asked for a special prosecutor to deal with the reconsideration motion and has moved forward with requesting an execution date.
Hill was sentenced to death more than 36 years ago, Watkins wrote in his request, and has been on Ohio’s death row since February 1986.
“The murder of Raymond Fife was so gruesome, that some federal courts have been reluctant to detail the brutality, summarily noting the boy was beaten, sexually assaulted, strangled, and burned,” Watkins wrote. Fife died two days later.
Watkins also noted that the court has set execution dates for more than 30 of Ohios’ current death row inmates but no execution has been carried out since 2018.
“Reprieve after reprieve has been summarily granted, predicated on a claimed unavailability of the lethal injections drugs. Furthermore, inaction appears to be the norm rather than action as nothing has been done to even attempt to comply with Court’s directives,” Watkins wrote. “Furthermore, the legislature has not considered approving other constitutionally authorized methods of execution such as electrocution or firing squad or newly enacted methods such as nitrogen hypoxia, which have been approved in several other states.”
Watkins added in his request that Fife’s mother Miriam, who is 82 years old, has said she would like to see justice done in her lifetime.
“Justice delayed is justice denied,” Watkins wrote.
A spokesperson for Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said exploring other methods of execution would have to come through the Ohio General Assembly. Right now, the only permissible form of execution in the state is lethal injection.
Pharmaceutical companies have notified Ohio it cannot use their drugs for lethal injection. If the state were to ignore that directive, these companies have said they will no longer provide their pharmaceuticals to any state entity, including state hospitals, the spokesperson said.
DeWine is reviewing upcoming executions on a case-by-case basis based on drug availability and case law.