It took a couple of years, but an Ohio Supreme Court-appointed panel has developed 56 recommendations related to application of the state's death penalty.
The 22-member panel of judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, legislators and law enforcement officers was appointed in 2011 by Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor. The panel released the recommendations during a meeting in Columbus Thursday.
"Ohio would still have capital punishment but I think it would be limited to the worst of the worst cases, which has always been the stated goal of the death penalty in the United States," state Public Defender Timothy Young, who supports many of the proposals, told the Associated Press.
Among those proposals is removing the death penalty option for anyone legally determined to have a "severe mental illness" when a crime is committed or at the time of the scheduled execution.
In addition the death penalty would not be an option simply because a death occurred during the commission of some felonies, including aggravated arson, aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, kidnapping, and rape.
"I don't think the death penalty should be eliminated, but it could be curbed. If an accidental death occurs when someone is committing a crime, that should be taken into account," said Marietta College student Dylan Staats from Euclid.
At a glance
Some Ohio death penalty panel recommendations:
Remove death penalty option for someone legally diagnosed with "severe mental illness" at the time of the crime or at the scheduled time of execution.
Death penalty would not be an option solely because a death occurred during some felonies, including aggravated arson, aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery, kidnapping and rape.
Prohibit death penalty in cases without DNA or biological evidence, a video recording linking the defendant to a murder, or a voluntary recorded confession.
Create a fund to pay for all prosecution and defense of capital cases.
Source: The Associated Press
As for mental illness being a consideration for not imposing the death penalty, he said that could present a problem.
"It could be hard to prove mental illness at the time a crime was committed," Staats said.
Marietta resident Elsie Bonnette said once a felon is convicted it's often a long time before the death penalty is carried out.
"Even when there is a death penalty sentence, it's so complicated (the convicted felon) may be in prison for years, and (taxpayers) have to take care of their housing, food, and health needs during that time," she said.
Jim Naylor, another Marietta resident, agreed that it can take years before a death sentence is completed. But he would like to see the death penalty eliminated in Ohio.
"No matter how heinous the crime, we're still killing people for no other reason than revenge," he said. "And it can take 20 to 30 years to file appeals against their sentence. I think the sentence should be life imprisonment and bring back the inmate work crews so they could work to pay for their crimes rebuilding our infrastructure."
Another panel recommendation would prohibit the death penalty in cases where DNA or biological evidence is not present, or if a voluntary recorded confession or a video linking the defendant to a murder does not exist.
Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien, a member of the panel, told the Associated Press that he disagreed with many of the panel's proposals.
"Many of the recommendations are so onerous that you could take Timothy McVeigh, and if he didn't give a videotaped confession, and you didn't have DNA, you couldn't execute Timothy McVeigh," he said.
McVeigh was convicted and executed in 2001 for the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, Okla.
The Ohio General Assembly would have to take action in order for some of the panel's recommendations to become law.
Ohio Rep. Andy Thompson, R-Marietta, said he's supported capital punishment.
"I've supported it in the past. Not everyone agrees, but especially in the case of heinous crimes I think it should remain in place," he said. "But I also can appreciate that everyone should be able to prove their innocence. So I'm looking forward to seeing the panel's recommendations."
According to The Associated Press, Ohio has executed 53 men by lethal injection since re-instating the death penalty in 1999. Another execution is scheduled in May.