Court affirms sentence of Howland woman on Ohio’s death row

Donna Roberts was sentenced to death for the third time in 2014 but appeared the decision in February

Donna Roberts was sentenced to death for conspiring to have her husband killed by Nathaniel Jackson.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKBN) – The Ohio Supreme Court has affirmed the death penalty of a Howland woman, who conspired to kill her ex-husband.

Donna Roberts is the state’s only condemned female killer on death row.

She was sentenced to death for the third time in 2014 but appealed the decision in February.

Watch: Testimony from Roberts’ appeal

Roberts was accused of planning her ex-husband’s murder with a boyfriend in hopes of collecting insurance money. Robert Fingerhut was killed in the couple’s Howland home.

Her boyfriend, Nathaniel Jackson, also was sentenced to death in the 2001 slaying.

In the past, the court said a prosecutor improperly helped prepare a sentencing motion in Roberts’ case and that a judge hadn’t fully considered factors that could argue against a death sentence.

Justice Terrence O’Donnell, writing for the majority, rejected arguments that allowing a new judge to sentence Roberts after the original judge died was unconstitutional.

Justice O’Donnell explained that Roberts helped Jackson plan Fingerhut’s murder in a series of letters and phone calls while Jackson was in prison on an unrelated charge. She actively participated with Jackson in the killing by purchasing a mask and gloves for him and allowing him into the home, evidencing prior calculation and design, O’Donnell said.

The court ruled 6-1 Tuesday.

The Court also pointed out that although Roberts expressed sadness for Fingerhut’s murder, she never accepted responsibility for it and denied her scheme to kill Fingerhut, “notwithstanding overwhelming evidence to the contrary.”

The Court concluded the death penalty was appropriate and proportionate to the death sentence imposed on Jackson.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 


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