COLUMBUS, Ohio – Lawyers for a condemned man who fatally shot an adult bookstore security guard at the end of a multistate crime spree asked Ohio's parole board Thursday to recommend mercy, saying he accepts responsibility for what happened but that it was an unintentional consequence of a struggle for a gun while he was high.
The request by 48-year-old Frederick Treesh comes a little more than a month ahead of his scheduled March 6 execution.
Prosecutors say Treesh robbed banks and businesses, committed sexual assaults, stole cars, committed carjackings and shot someone to death in a robbery in crimes across Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. He was sentenced to die in Ohio for killing 58-year-old Henry Dupree during a robbery in Eastlake on Aug. 27, 1994.
Attorneys for Treesh argued in favor of clemency in Columbus, while prosecutors' presented their case against sparing Treesh for a murder they say was intentional. The parole board will make a recommendation, but Gov. John Kasich has the final say on clemency.
Treesh's attorneys described him as a cocaine addict who was high during the robbery and is deeply sorry for what happened.
"Hindsight, regret and remorse cannot turn back the clock and cannot return Mr. Dupree's life," they said in a petition for clemency. "What Fred can do and has tried to do is to help prevent others from making the same mistakes he did" by teaching them to avoid drugs.
His lawyers argue evidence showed the shooting was unintentional and allege that Treesh's rights were violated during a prolonged interrogation as he was coming down from a drug high, which contributed to his death sentence. They also say Treesh suffers from health problems, including a seizure disorder, that raise doubts about whether Ohio's lethal injection process would cause him suffering amounting to cruel and unusual punishment that's unconstitutional.
Prosecutors contend Treesh intentionally murdered Dupree and tried to kill others, including police officers in pursuit, after joining his co-defendants in a three-week spree of increasingly violent crimes, including a murder at a Michigan video store two days before the Ohio slaying.
"Treesh has never taken responsibility for his actions," Lake County prosecutor Charles Coulson wrote in his argument against clemency. "Treesh still claims 'the cocaine made him do it.'"
Coulson also noted that courts previously determined Treesh's constitutional rights weren't violated.
Treesh declined to be interviewed by the parole board.
Ohio's most recent execution was in November, when the state put to death Brett Hartman for the 1997 stabbing and dismemberment of an Akron woman.
Associated Press writer Kantele Franko contributed to this report. Welsh-Huggins can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/awhcolumbus.