YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Ohio Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the execution date of a man convicted of murdering a 14-year-old girl in Cleveland can be postponed.
It was only in August that the Court denied an appeal and set a date of July 21, 2026, for Christopher Whitaker’s death.
Whitaker has filed appeals in Cuyahoga County and filed a motion with the Ohio Supreme Court asking that no execution date be set while his appeal is pending.
Whitaker’s attorney said that if the appeal in Cuyahoga Common Pleas is denied, he will file an appeal from the denial of that petition to the Court of Appeals of Cuyahoga County, and if necessary, he will appeal that court’s decision to the Ohio Supreme Court, a process that could take years.
Whitaker has taken issue with several facets of his 2017 death penalty conviction that have been decided and appealed. Some of those issues include a claim that the jury did not hear his offer to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence, how the indictment was handled, the listing of charges and how each was weighed, saying his constitutional rights were violated.
Whitaker has also claimed that he had ineffective counsel.
Whitaker was arrested in February 2017 after his DNA was identified from samples collected from the victim. Investigators said that the victim died from multiple injuries and puncture wounds consistent with the tools that were found at the scene.
Currently, there is a moratorium on executions in Ohio due to the unavailability of lethal injection drugs. Lethal Injection is the only approved form of execution in the state.
While some legislators are calling for the death penalty in Ohio to be abolished, others, such as Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins, want the General Assembly to approve other methods of execution such as apoxia and firing squad.