The Supreme Court of Ohio affirmed the death sentence of a Cleveland, Ohio man who abducted and murdered a 14-year-old girl on her way to school.
The Supreme Court unanimously upheld two of three capital convictions of Christopher Whitaker based on the 2017 rape and kidnapping of the girl before killing her.
The court dismissed Whitaker’s conviction and death sentence based on aggravated burglary.
The Court was divided 6-1 on one aspect of Whitaker’s appeal, concerning the jury’s inability to hear his offer to plead guilty in exchange for a sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Writing for the Court majority, Justice Patrick F. Fischer explained that Whitaker forcibly entered a vacant house with the victim, identified in court records as “A.D..,” and then raped, tortured, and murdered her with a power drill and other tools.
Justice Fischer stated these “are horrific crimes” that support the imposition of the death penalty.
Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and Justices Sharon L. Kennedy, R. Patrick DeWine, Michael P. Donnelly, and Melody Stewart joined Justice Fischer’s opinion.
In a concurring opinion, Justice Jennifer Brunner disagreed with the majority’s approval of the trial court’s ruling to refuse allowing the jury to consider Whitaker’s offer to plead guilty as a mitigating factor.
Justice Brunner wrote that while the jury should have been allowed to consider it, she agreed with the majority’s conclusion to affirm the death sentence.