Sherri Bevan Walsh and colleagues in the Summit County prosecutor’s office made the right call in altering how they choose whether to pursue the death penalty. As Stephanie Warsmith, a Beacon Journal staff writer, reported this week, prosecutors will meet with defense attorneys at the start of the process to examine evidence that indicates life in prison would be a more fitting punishment.
In doing so, the prosecutor’s office is taking the path of other larger Ohio counties. It is a sensible course, one that reflects recent events here. Of the past 10 capital punishment cases brought by the prosecutor’s office, one has resulted in the jury arriving at a death sentence.
Those outcomes conform with a pattern across the state since juries gained the sentencing option of life in prison without the possibility of parole. A capital punishment case proceeds in two parts, first, a trial to determine whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty, and second, the punishment phase, during which the defense presents mitigating evidence, attempting to show why a death sentence would not be appropriate.
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