COLUMBUS, Ohio – A three-judge panel on Tuesday handed down a death penalty verdict for an Ohio man after he pleaded guilty to killing a woman he lived with and her two children on Thanksgiving Day in 2010.
The Franklin County death verdict for Caron Montgomery of Columbus was the county's first in a decade and also a relatively rare case of a death penalty verdict following a guilty plea.
The panel will formally sentence Montgomery to death May 22. On Tuesday, the judges found that the circumstances of the crime outweighed evidence that Montgomery presented as to why he should be spared, and that a death sentence was the appropriate punishment.
The three-judge panel "followed the law and rendered their verdict based upon the overwhelming evidence presented," Prosecutor Ron O'Brien said in a statement. Montgomery's attorney, Scott Weisman, declined to comment.
Montgomery, 38, pleaded guilty earlier this month to multiple counts of aggravated murder and single counts of murder and domestic violence.
Police found Tia Hendricks and her 2-year-old and 10-year-old children stabbed to death inside Hendricks' Columbus apartment the day after the killings.
At least seven defendants have received the death penalty after pleading guilty before such panels over the past 30 years in Ohio, including another Franklin County man, Michael Turner, who pleaded guilty in 2002 to killing his estranged wife and her boyfriend.
That's compared to dozens of cases where three-judge panels found defendants guilty and then sentenced them to death.
Turner remains on death row. Four of the seven defendants who pleaded guilty have since been executed.