Ex-prison chief hopes to stop execution

March 29, 2011 at 3:19 PM
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COLUMBUS, Ohio, March 29 (UPI) -- A former head of the Ohio prison system says an inmate scheduled to be executed in April was condemned for a fight "that got tragically out of hand."

Terry Collins, who announced after his retirement last year that he opposes the death penalty, urged Gov. John Kasich to commute Clarence Carter's sentence, The Columbus Dispatch reported. His letter was co-signed by Alphonse Gerhardstein, a Cincinnati civil-rights lawyer who has brought many suits on behalf of prison inmates, including some naming Collins as a defendant.

"It is much more likely that this was an inmate fight that got tragically out of hand," the letter obtained by the Dispatch said. "Inmate-on-inmate violence in lockups is often pursued to establish oneself as fearsome and to deter others from threatening or attacking the inmate."

The evidence suggests Carter did not intend to kill Johnny Allen in 1988, the two men said. Carter had a shiv or homemade knife but did not use it, even though the two men battled for almost half an hour before guards intervened.

Carter, 49, is scheduled to be executed April 12 and has lost two appeals to the state parole board. Ohio has carried out two executions since Kasich, a Republican, took office in January.

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