Parole board to rule next week on killer's clemency request

Alva Campbell's lawyers argued his health and traumatic childhood should lead to have his death penalty taken away so he can live the rest of his life in prison. (WSYX/WTTE)

The man called the textbook example for the death penalty as well as the sickest man on Death Row asked for mercy Thursday.

Alva Campbell has asked the Ohio Parole Board for a life sentence instead of the death penalty. He's scheduled to be executed November 15.

Campbell's attorneys spent hours Thursday explaining to the parole board why they believe he deserves to die in his prison cell instead of an execution chamber. They said he was physically and sexually abused his entire childhood. That caused him problems his entire life. They said his father not only abused Campbell and his sisters but also forced them to watch him beat their mother.

"He was fundamentally broken by what happened when he was a kid," said Bill Mooney, Campbell's attorney from 1997. "Just think of how horrific what he saw was and I think that broke him."

Mooney and the other attorneys speaking on his behalf said they weren't excusing his behavior.

"You can't excuse it," he said. "You can't. You can't make it better."

Campbell escaped from a Franklin County Sheriff's deputy while being taken to court for a robbery charge in 1997. He faked being paralyzed so he was taken in a wheelchair. He stole a deputy's gun, kidnapped 18-year-old Charles Dials as he was going to pay a traffic ticket and eventually killed him. Campbell was on parole for another murder at the time.

A psychologist at the hearing diagnosed him with four mental disorders. Campbell is 69 years old and now in failing health as well. He's been diagnosed with heart disease, COPD, emphysema, asthma and has had four types of cancer. His attorneys argued he doesn't have much time left.

"We can protect ourselves without using the death penalty," Mooney said. "We don't need the death penalty."

Campbell's murder trial was the first death penalty case for Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien. He argued for Campbell's execution to move forward.

"This was a cold-blooded execution for no reason whatsoever," O'Brien said of Dials' murder.

O'Brien said a nightmare childhood didn't explain why he killed two people.

"That's not a reason for us to give mercy," he said. "There's a lot of people raised in a less than optimum circumstance, including his two sisters, didn't go out and kill once."

He said the death penalty exists for people like Campbell.

"A man with this kind of record, the only appropriate penalty is the death penalty," O'Brien said. "Otherwise there's no reason to have it."

Governor Kasich will get the final say. The parole board will make its recommendation to him next Friday.

Several of Dials' family members attended the hearing Thursday. They didn't comment but in the past have said they want to see the execution carried out.

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