Ohio taking death penalty case to US Supreme Court

Ohio's governor and attorney general said Sunday the state is asking the U.S. Supreme Court for a ruling that Ohio's protocol for carrying out the death penalty is constitutional.

Gov. John Kasich and Attorney General Mike DeWine said in a statement that the state wants the high court to reverse a federal appeals court decision to delay the Wednesday execution of Charles Lorraine.

Lorraine was condemned to death in the 1986 slaying of an elderly Trumbull County couple. But the federal appeals court said Friday his execution should be delayed to review changes Ohio has made in carrying out the death penalty.

Lorraine argued that Ohio broke its promise to adhere strictly to its execution procedures. But the state said that deviations from the procedures during the last execution were minor and that an inmate's rights would not be violated by changes, such as which official announces the start and finish times of an injection.

"Attorney General Mike DeWine and I agree that Ohio's administration of capital punishment is constitutional and we have asked the Supreme Court of the United States to affirm that," the governor said in the statement.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling supported an earlier decision by U.S. District Court Judge Gregory Frost, who criticized the state for deviating from policy when an inmate was executed in November.

After the appeals court ruling, Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins sent a letter urging the two state officials to appeal. Watkins argued the federal courts have wrongly interfered with Ohio executions.

Records show Lorraine, 45, repeatedly stabbed 77-year-old Raymond Montgomery and his bedridden wife, 80-year-old Doris Montgomery, before burglarizing their Trumbull County home.

Lorraine's attorney, Allen L. Bohnert, has said the case is not about the crimes for which Lorraine was convicted and sentenced, but about the state's liability to apply its law equally.