NEW VOICES: Victim's Family Asks Ohio Board to Spare Inmate's Life

The family of a man who was killed in Ohio recently petitioned the parole board to commute the death sentence of the defendant in the murder. Peter Mah, son of Chong Hoon Mah, who was killed by Johnnie Baston (pictured) during a robbery in 1994, told the Ohio Parole Board, “I was opposed to Mr. Baston receiving a death sentence at the time of his trial… [and] my family and I are opposed to Mr. Baston being executed.” During the trial, the family had filed affidavits saying that they preferred to see Baston spend his entire life in prison, but that sentencing option was not available at the time. The Board makes a recommendation regarding clemency to the governor, who makes the final decision. Baston’s attorneys have compared his case to that of Jeffrey Hill of Ohio, whose death sentence was commuted to life without parole by former Governor Ted Strickland. In Hill’s case, the parole board cited the wishes of the victim’s family opposing execution. Baston’s attorneys have also presented evidence that he was abused as a child by his birth family.

Baston is scheduled for execution on March 10. If the execution goes forward, it will be by a method never used before in this country— a single dose of pentobarbital. UPDATE: The parole board unanimously rejected Baston’s petition for a recommendation of clemency. (Feb. 11, 2011).

(J. Provance, “Killer to ask Ohio governor to spare his life, family of ‘94 Toledo victim is against March execution,” Toledo Blade, February 2, 2011). See Life Without Parole and Victims.