Dying Penalty Upheld for Prisoner Who Murdered Fellow Inmate

Dying Penalty Upheld for Prisoner Who Murdered Fellow Inmate

Image of death row inmate Victoria Drain

Dying row inmate Victoria Drain

Image of death row inmate Victoria Drain

Dying row inmate Victoria Drain

The Supreme Court docket of Ohio has affirmed the dying sentence of an Ohio prisoner who murdered a fellow inmate at the Warren Correctional Establishment in 2019.

The Court docket unanimously upheld the aggravated homicide sentence of Victoria Drain, who pleaded no contest to the costs and requested {that a} three-judge panel relatively than a jury think about her case. In the course of the pendency of the attraction, Drain obtained a authorized identify change from Joel Drain.

Writing for the Court docket, Justice Sharon L. Kennedy acknowledged that Drain admitted to planning inmate Christopher Richardson’s dying. She wrote the irritating circumstances far outweigh any mitigating proof that may result in a lesser sentence.

“The killing itself was terribly brutal,” the opinion acknowledged.

Whereas agreeing the conviction ought to stand, Justice Jennifer Brunner dissented on the imposition of the dying penalty. She wrote {that a} new mitigation listening to ought to be performed due to Drain’s attorneys’ “failure to research and current mitigating proof.” She acknowledged that “there’s a cheap chance that, however for counsel’s poor efficiency, Drain would have been spared the dying penalty.”

Inmate Confessed to Plotting Homicide

Drain and Richardson have been housed within the residential therapy unit of the Warren facility. Drain initially informed a state trooper investigating Richardson’s dying that she had been planning to kill one other unnamed inmate whom she believed was a baby molester. Drain had obtained a motor from a big electrical fan and was going to hit the unnamed inmate with the motor after which strangle him.

Drain invited Richardson to her cell to get excessive after which returned to her cell to await Richardson. By the point Richardson arrived, Drain stated her “adrenaline was simply working” in anticipation of killing the unnamed inmate and “simply needed to do one thing to any person.” She then determined to kill Richardson and hit him on the pinnacle with the fan motor she had hid in her pocket. After battering Richardson with the fan motor, Drain stabbed him with a pencil and strangled him till Richardson stopped transferring.

Drain was relocated to the Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown, the place she gave an unsolicited assertion about Richardson’s homicide to a corrections officer that was a unique model of occasions. Drain once more indicated she deliberate to kill a suspected little one molester and enlisted Richardson’s assist in coaxing her goal to an space the place she might commit the crime. Drain stated Richardson ultimately agreed to assist, however when Drain raised the topic once more, he then refused to get concerned. That led Drain to fret that Richardson would possibly report her plan to jail authorities, which is why she killed him.

Prosecutors Search Dying Penalty

Drain was charged with two counts of aggravated homicide with dying penalty specs. Drain initially pleaded not responsible. She subsequently waived her proper to a jury, and a three-judge panel was chosen to listen to her case. Drain pleaded no contest to all of the counts and specs earlier than the panel.

The panel performed a sentencing listening to the place Drain introduced some mitigating proof. Her  cousin and her life-long pal every testified, and she or he made an unsworn assertion. Nevertheless, Drain instructed her attorneys to not current the mitigation proof contained in defendant’s “exhibit A.” Drain additionally wouldn’t enable counsel to current testimony from her 14-year-old daughter.

The panel convicted her and sentenced her to dying. Dying penalty sentences obtain an automated attraction to the Supreme Court docket.

Supreme Court docket Thought of Choice to Plead No Contest

Earlier than the Supreme Court docket, Drain raised 16 objections, together with that her no-contest plea was invalid as a result of it was not given “knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently.” Her appellate attorneys argued that Drain’s trial attorneys supplied ineffective counsel and failed to research all related mitigating proof. Due to the attorneys’ failure to current Drain with a full view of the proof, Drain’s plea was not constitutionally legitimate, the appellate attorneys maintained.

Justice Kennedy defined that to determine her attorneys’ help was ineffective, Drain needed to present her attorneys’ efficiency fell under what in all fairness anticipated of an lawyer and that, if not for the errors made by the attorneys, the end result of the proceedings would have been totally different.

Drain’s trial attorneys’ efficiency didn’t contribute to her no contest plea, the Court docket concluded. The Court docket famous that Drain’s attorneys suggested her to not plead no contest, however she repeatedly insisted on the plea and to leaving it to the three-judge panel to find out the end result.

The Court docket rejected the declare that an insufficient investigation led to Drain’s choice. The opinion famous that Drain’s resolve to plead no contest was constant. She repeatedly informed the trial courtroom she needed to plead no contest and even accused the judges of prolonging the proceedings by not promptly accepting her plea. She testified that she was mentally competent to determine and informed the judges a psychologist employed by her attorneys to look at her would additionally testify to her competency.

The Court docket famous that the file confirmed that the attorneys carried out a “substantial investigation,” which included experiences from psychologist Jenny O’Donnell and a mitigation specialist. The mitigation specialist interviewed Drain’s mom, brother, cousin, ex-wife, and two youngsters. The attorneys additionally obtained 1,900 pages of jail, youth providers, academic, and courtroom data, which have been a part of exhibit A.

Drain’s plea was not the results of insufficient info from her attorneys, and her choice to plead no contest was voluntary, figuring out, and clever, the Court docket concluded.

Further Claims of Legal professional Deficiencies Examined

Drain’s appellate counsel claimed that protection counsel rendered ineffective help as to the penalty section of the trial continuing. Principally, as a result of they did not current the 1,900 pages of proof contained in exhibit A.

The Court docket famous that after the protection introduced its penalty-phase proof and Drain made her unsworn assertion, protection counsel knowledgeable the panel that they had extra proof, which Drain had forbidden them to make use of.

Regardless of Drain’s try to forestall the trial courtroom from contemplating exhibit A, the protection attorneys requested and acquired permission to introduce the exhibit below seal. The attorneys understood the request would forestall the knowledge from being reviewed by the trial courtroom, however the attorneys acknowledged they needed the knowledge on the file for future consideration.

Earlier than the Supreme Court docket, Drain argued she didn’t instruct her trial attorneys to utterly waive all the knowledge they uncovered, however solely to omit proof about her childhood and never enable her daughter to testify. The Court docket acknowledged this assertion was “inconsistent with the file.” Protection counsel represented to the Court docket that Drain had instructed them to not current defendant’s exhibit A and she or he didn’t protest or contradict counsel’s assertion in any manner.

The Court docket famous that Drain additionally informed the panel she was not making any “far-fetched medical psychological well being excuses” and didn’t intend to justify her conduct based mostly on any “psychological defects.” The opinion acknowledged Drain’s statements refuted her rivalry that counsel was “prevented solely from presenting testimony by Drain’s daughter and proof of Drain’s childhood.” Relatively, she made a particular level of refusing to current any “medical psychological well being excuses.”

Primarily based on the investigation of the crime scene, and Drain’s admission to the crimes, the Court docket discovered nothing that the attorneys might supply would have led the panel to determine towards issuing a dying sentence, the opinion acknowledged.

Supreme Court docket Carried out Unbiased Assessment of Sentence

In addition to discovering no errors within the trial proceedings, the Court docket performed its personal evaluation of the irritating and mitigating circumstances to find out if the dying penalty was warranted.

The Court docket famous Drain suffered “traumas” as a baby, together with spending 20 days in solitary confinement as a 13-year-old juvenile offender. O’Donnell, the psychologist, performed a number of interviews with Drain and examined her jail data, which indicated she had been recognized with gender dysphoria, posttraumatic stress dysfunction, borderline character, and delinquent character dysfunction.

O’Donnell acknowledged that Drain informed her that a few of these diagnoses have been made when she was “manipulating” the system to obtain advantages. O’Donnell concluded that Drain didn’t undergo from a extreme psychological sickness or an mental incapacity at the time she was evaluated. O’Donnell decided Drain was competent to face trial.

The opinion acknowledged that taken as an entire, Drain’s mitigation “deserves vital weight.”

“However the irritating circumstances on this case are so grave that they outweigh the mitigating elements past an affordable doubt,” the Court docket concluded.

Dissent Known as for New Mitigation Listening to

Justice Brunner referred to as for remanding the case for a brand new mitigation listening to. Alternatively, she stated, the excessive courtroom shouldn’t decide Drain’s ineffective help of counsel claims on this attraction, since no post-conviction movement had but been filed, which might give the Court docket the chance to evaluation proof exterior of the appellate file and a trial courtroom the chance to decide whether or not Drain’s trial attorneys had been ineffective within the mitigation section of the trial.

Justice Brunner wrote that Drain’s attorneys had ample proof of serious trauma and psychological sickness, together with gender dysphoria involving self-harm and different diagnoses, equivalent to borderline character dysfunction, delinquent character dysfunction, schizophrenia, and posttraumatic-stress dysfunction. The dissent acknowledged that Drain’s attorneys’ mitigation investigation fell under skilled norms, partly as a result of counsel failed to research sure mitigating issues “that have been readily obvious.” Whereas Drain prevented her attorneys from introducing some mitigating proof, the attorneys weren’t prevented from offering all of the proof they’d gathered relating to her situations, the dissent acknowledged. Additional, extra proof going to how Drain’s psychological well being points impacted her legal behaviors ought to have been introduced, the dissent famous.

“If her attorneys introduced that proof and if they’d performed an enough investigation for added proof, there’s a cheap probability that she would have been spared a dying sentence,” the dissent acknowledged.

Justice Brunner wrote that if the Court docket wouldn’t grant a brand new listening to, it ought to chorus from addressing the ineffective help of counsel claims till Drain information a postconviction reduction petition. That petition would enable Drain to introduce new proof, which might clarify how her attorneys have been ineffective and provides the Court docket extra info to determine the matter, she concluded.

2020-0652. State v. Drain, Slip Opinion No. 2022-Ohio-3697.

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