UA: 141/11 Index: AMR 51/039/2011 USA Date: 16 May 2011
GOVERNOR TO DECIDE ON OHIO EXECUTION
Shawn Hawkins, a 42-year-old African American man who has been on death row in Ohio for half
of his life, is due to be executed on 14 June. The state parole board has voted for the death
sentence to be commuted, but the governor is not bound to follow their recommendation.
On the morning of 12 June 1989, the bodies of Terrance Richard, 18, and Diamond Marteen, 19, were found in
Terrance Richard’s car in a residential street in Mount Healthy, near Cincinnati, Ohio. Both had been shot in the
head at close range with a .25 calibre gun. The murder weapon was never found. Police were led to 20-year-old
Shawn Hawkins by Henry Brown, then aged 17, who would become the state’s only alleged eyewitness to the crime.
In interviews with police, his version of events changed multiple times and at trial Brown said that he had witnessed
the murder of Terrance Richard only and identified Shawn Hawkins as the killer. Shawn Hawkins told police that he
had seen and spoken with both victims on 11 June in order to arrange a drug deal. He had got into Richard’s vehicle
to discuss the deal.
Among the non-victim fingerprints found in the car were three that were never identified and two attributed to
Shawn Hawkins, including one partial thumbprint. Shawn Hawkins was charged with the murders. Henry Brown,
who himself was a suspect, was given full immunity from prosecution in exchange for his testimony against Shawn
Hawkins. Shawn Hawkins testified at the trial and denied that he had any involvement in the murders. A number of
witnesses provided alibi evidence in support of his innocence claim. However, the jury convicted Shawn Hawkins of
both murders, and the trial moved into a sentencing phase. Shawn Hawkins’ trial lawyer had not prepared a
mitigation case for the sentencing. He instead berated the jurors for their decision to convict Hawkins, urging them
not to make another mistake by voting for execution. The sentencing phase lasted one day, 10 January 1990, and
the following day the jury voted that Shawn Hawkins should be executed.
Since the trial, Shawn Hawkins has continued to maintain his innocence, and his appeal lawyer has presented
further evidence casting doubt on the conviction, including calling into question the way in which the thumbprint
had been handled and analysed by the authorities. In addition, mitigating evidence that the trial lawyer failed to
investigate has been presented on appeal. In 2004, a federal magistrate judge concluded that the death sentence
should be overturned because of the trial lawyer’s failure to present such evidence and in 2005 a US District Court
agreed. However, in 2008 the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed the ruling. In May, the Ohio clemency
board voted by 7-0 that Governor John Kasich should commute the death sentence in this “troubling” case, adding
that the Board members were “not confident in the death sentence in this case”. Among those who had contacted
the board was one of the original trial jurors who stated “I wish it was more overwhelming that he was guilty”.
PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY in English or your own language, in your own words:
Calling on the governor to commute Shawn Hawkins’ death sentence;
Acknowledging the seriousness of the crime for which Shawn Hawkins was sentenced to death;
Welcoming the unanimous vote for clemency by the Ohio Adult Parole Authority;
Expressing concern at the trial lawyer’s failure to investigate or present mitigating evidence;
Noting the continuing doubts that surround the conviction of Shawn Hawkins.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, AND BEFORE 14 JUNE TO:
Governor John Kasich, Riffe Center, 30th Floor, 77 South High Street, Columbus, OH 43215-6117, USA
Fax: +1 614 466 9354
Salutation: Dear Governor
Also send copies to diplomatic representatives of the USA accredited to your country. Please check with your section office if sending appeals
after the above date.