Bennie Adams – black, age 28

Sentenced in Mahoning County, Ohio
By: a jury
Date of crime: December 29, 1985
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Adams strangled Gina Tenney (age 19). Jones was released from prison in 2004 after serving 18 years for the rape, robbery and kidnapping of a school principal. The prosecution alleged Adams raped, robbed and kidnapped Tenney and burglarized her apartment in conjunction with the murder. Although the statute of limitation had run on these non-murder charges, these were used as factors in support of the death penalty. The defense focused on the fact that, after his 2004 release, Adams got a job, took care of his mother, bought a house for his daughter, his grandchildren and himself, and led a law-abiding life. Bennie also served as an education aide and took college courses while in prison. The jury convicted Adams using DNA evidence, from a rape kit, which had been preserved for 22 years.
Prosecutor(s): Dawn Cantalamessa, Martin P. Desmond
Defense lawyer(s): Lou DeFabio, Anthony Meranto
Sources: Cleveland Plain Dealer 10/23/08 (2008 WLNR 20301736); AP Alert 1/6/09 – OH 22:24:59:;;;;

Phillip L. Jones – black, age 37

Sentenced in Summit County, Ohio
By: a jury
Date of crime: April 23, 2007
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Jones beat, raped and strangled Susan Marie Christian-Yates (age 33). Jones had previously spent time in prison for attempted rape of a 16 year old girl. The defense argued that Yates and Jones were having rough sex and Jones got carried away but did not intend to kill her.
Prosecutor(s): Brian LoPrinzi, Becky Doherty
Defense lawyer(s):
Sources: Cleveland Plain Dealer 12/19/07 (2008 WLNR 25070635), 1/31/08 (2008 WLNR 1910238; Akron Beacon Journal 1/31/08 (2008 WLNR 1917027); AP Alert 1/6/09 – OH 22:24:59;;

Calvin Neyland, Jr. – black, age 43

Sentenced in Wood County, Ohio
By: a judge
Date of crime: August 8, 2007
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Neyland murdered Douglas Smith (age 44) and Thomas Lazar (age 58). Neyland shot Smith and Lazar to death at Liberty Transporting where Neyland had been employed as a truck driver. Smith planned to fire Neyland that day and Lazar, a re-tired Pennsylvania state trooper who worked as corporate safety director for Liberty, had come to assist Smith with what Smith feared would be a troublesome encounter. The defense, which attempted to have Neyland found incompetent to stand trail, maintained that he is mentally ill. Judge Robert Pollex concluded that the mitigating factors – lack of a significant criminal record, a relatively successful work history, and his diagnosed personality disorder – were not enough to outweigh the aggravating circumstances of the crime.
Prosecutor(s): Gwen Howe-Gebers
Defense lawyer(s): Adrian Cimerman, J. Scott Hicks
Sources: The Blade 11/7/08 (2008 WLNR 21297756); Pittsburgh Tribune Review 11/08/08 (2008 WLNR 21383220);;;;