BELMONT COUNTY, Ohio (WTRF)
Nawaz Ahmed was convicted of murdering four people—his estranged wife and three members of her family– in 1999 in St. Clairsville.
On Friday, he was to appear in Belmont County Common Pleas Court on a motion entered by his attorney, for the death penalty to be overturned because of serious mental illness.
Ahmed appeared on video from prison.
But he immediately said the hearing should not happen.
Ahmed said he has filed notice of appeal, so Belmont County Common Pleas Court no longer has jurisdiction.
So why did he fight against a hearing that may have set aside his death penalty?
Here’s what the prosecution says.
“If in fact this court would find that he is seriously mentally ill, the only thing this court can do is to convert his death sentence to that which is life without parole,” said Prosecutor Kevin Flanagan. “And if you do that, you give up any claims of innocence, and that’s why Nawaz Ahmed was vehemently against this being filed on his behalf. Because he has maintained his innocence for the last 23 years.”
Judge Frank Fregiato sustained Ahmed’s motion.
The hearing on vacating the death penalty was not held.
The defense contends that Ahmed is seriously mentally ill, and was at the time of the murders.
The prosecution contends Ahmed is not mentally ill.
He is convicted of slitting the throats of his estranged wife, her father, her sister and her sister’s baby girl on September 11, 1999.