COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKBN) – The death sentence of a man who said he was “tricked” into having a child and ended up stabbing the mother and the 4-year-old girl to death was upheld following an Ohio Supreme Court decision.
The decision involves a 2018 murder case out of Franklin County.
The court ruled that even though Kristofer Garrett had no criminal record and there were claims of a mental health problem, which were “strong mitigating circumstances, the panel wrote, the crime was so grisly that those facts have no bearing.
Garrett’s defense was that he was 19 years old when he says he was “tricked” into having a child with a 29-year-old woman, according to court records. He said the woman told him she would not get pregnant. When she did, Garrett said she told him she would not seek child support but she did to the tune of about $600 a month, and he said she withheld visitation unless he made additional payments and met other demands.
A confrontation ensued and Garrett admitted to police that believing there was a threat of jail time for nonsupport, he became angry, drank heavily, and drove to the mother’s house and waited for her. When she left her home, Garrett stabbed her multiple times. When the child ran out screaming, Garrett killed the girl, too, because he was afraid she would identify him.
While the court was unanimous in upholding the aggravated murder convictions, Judge Myron Duhart, sitting for Justice Jennifer Brunner, said that the majority did not give sufficient weight to Garret’s “serious mental health issues, his lack of a prior criminal record, and dysfunctional childhood when affirming the death sentence.
Judge Duhart also noted in his dissenting opinion that “that while Garrett’s appeal was pending before the Supreme Court, the General Assembly passed a new law that states a person who has been diagnosed with a serious mental illness is ineligible for a death sentence if the illness significantly impaired the person’s capacity to exercise rational judgment. He noted that psychologists testifying for both the prosecution and defense identified Garrett as having a serious mental illness.”