Fewer prosecutors seeking death penalty in murder cases

CLEVELAND (AP) – Fewer prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in murder cases across Ohio, instead pushing for life sentences without parole.

The number of capital murder indictments filed since 2010 has dropped by 77 percent. Nineteen have been brought this year. The state currently has 141 inmates on death row, The Plain Dealer reported.

The newspaper reported Sunday that prison records and public documents show that the number of murder convicts sentenced to life without parole has increased by 92 percent since 2010.

The Washington-based Death Penalty Information Center said the national trend is also for fewer death penalty prosecutions.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty said the death penalty can be a strong deterrent to crime, but has been undermined by the lengthy appeals process.

“In every case, I have to ask, ‘Are we going to survive this?’ We have to take a case to a judge and jury and then face 25 years of appeals. Is it fair to families of victims? Is it fair putting them through a quarter century of appeals?'”

Robert Dunham, the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, cited high costs, the strain on victims’ families and the waning public sentiment of the death sentence as reasons why the number of death penalty indictments has dropped.

“Most prosecutors have become much more circumspect about death-penalty cases,” Dunham said. “The single most likely outcome of a capital case after a defendant has been sentenced to death is not that he will be executed but that the conviction or sentence will be overturned.”

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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