Hartman’s lawyer telling the jury "the answer is in your hand." Quantitatively and qualitatively, Judge Clay
wrote, "trial counsel’s performance fell below prevailing professional norms."
In February 2009, the Ohio Parole Board considered the case for clemency. Hartman’s clemency petition
reiterated that the trial lawyer had only presented to the jury "a limited slice of Hartman’s history…a few
isolated and unconnected incidents…without any explanation of how they affected his development or
behaviour… It is apparent that the chaos, constant dislocation, isolation, rejection, and psychological abuse
that Brett experienced as a child had extremely harmful effects on his development." The Board rejected the
claim as "without merit…. Brett Hartman received a fair trial at which the jury heard his personal story."
Since being on death row, Brett Hartman has earned a paralegal qualification and been ordained as a minister,
as well as teaching himself to paint. The Board concluded that "despite his accomplishments in prison, no
amount of good deeds can mitigate against the horrors and brutality of this crime." The Board received
testimony from a friend of Winda Snipes, "on behalf of the victim and the victim’s family." The Board’s report
notes that "the family of the victim wants the execution of Brett Hartman to go forward."
Brett Hartman told the Board that he had not killed Winda Snipes. He wrote, "I have always felt horrible about
her death, the way she died and how this has effected [sic] her family. No one should ever have to endure
what Winda did as no family should have to lose a loved one as her family lost Winda." The Board concluded
that despite evidence pointing to his guilt, "he displays no remorse." It rejected clemency.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases, unconditionally. To end the death penalty is to
abandon a destructive, diversionary and divisive public policy that is not consistent with widely held values. It
not only runs the risk of irrevocable error, it is also costly, in social and psychological terms as well as to the
public purse (a fact which is drawing increasing public concern in the USA in the current economic climate).
It has not been proved to have a special deterrent effect. It tends to be applied in a discriminatory way, on
grounds of race and class. It denies the possibility of reconciliation and rehabilitation. It promotes simplistic
responses to complex human problems, rather than pursuing explanations that could inform positive strategies.
It prolongs the suffering of the murder victim’s family, and extends that suffering to the loved ones of the
condemned prisoner. It diverts resources that could be better used to work against violent crime and assist
those affected by it. It is a symptom of a culture of violence, not a solution to it. It is an affront to human
dignity. It should be abolished.
There have been 1,156 executions in the USA since judicial killing resumed there in 1977, 28 of them in
Ohio. There have been 20 executions in the USA so far in 2009, none in Ohio.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in your own words:
- explaining that you are not seeking to excuse the murder of Winda Snipes, or to downplay the suffering
- expressing concern that at the sentencing phase of Brett Hartman's trial the jury was not provided with full
mitigation evidence, or any expert evidence, and noting the strong Sixth Circuit dissent in this case;
- noting that Brett Hartman continues to maintain his innocence;
- regretting the parole board’s vote against a recommendation for clemency;
- urging the Governor to grant clemency and to commute Brett Hartman’s death sentence;
- calling on the Governor to support a moratorium on executions in Ohio with a view to abolition.
Governor Ted Strickland
Governor’s Office, Riffe Center, 30th Floor, 77 South High Street, Columbus, OH 43215-6108, USA
Fax: +1 614 466 9354
Email: From the USA: http://www.governor.ohio.gov/Assistance/ContacttheGovernor/tabid/150/Default.aspx
Email: From outside USA: firstname.lastname@example.org
Salutation: Dear Governor
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY.