COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The prosecutor in Ohio's most populous county isn't limiting his review of capital punishment to the case of a man scheduled to die next month for fatally stabbing a woman 17 times.
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty also will examine the death sentences of three other inmates set for execution this year and next.
McGinty, who promised to reduce the number of capital indictments when running for election last year, also will look at the county's other 18 death row inmates as they receive execution dates. Those include 15 prisoners sentenced to die before life without parole was an option in the state beginning in 1996.
Anyone sentenced before then will be looked at differently, Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Matthew Meyer said Friday. In addition, the "heinousness" of a killing now plays an important role in McGinty's approach to capital punishment, he said.
"The office is very much interested in pursuing capital cases as an exception, and not as the rule," Meyer said.
The county has long been criticized for taking a heavy-handed approach to capital punishment, indicting dozens of defendants a year but then dropping nearly all of them in favor of plea bargains.
Now "We're really looking at the cases that are essentially the worst we've got," Meyer said. "When we charge a case and commit ourselves to the litigation, we want to make sure the legal system will support it and there's very good grounds to do so."
For example, McGinty has left open the possibility of a capital charge against Ariel Castro, accused of kidnapping three women and imprisoning them in his Cleveland home for a decade while he beat and raped them. One of the women told investigators Castro starved and beat her to force her to miscarry; capital charges would in theory cover the alleged death of those fetuses.