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Death Row Inmate Argues Ohio's Death Penalty Remains Unconstitutional

Maurice Mason's lawyers want the Ohio Supreme Court to change how death penalty sentences are handed out in the state.
Maurice Mason's lawyers want the Ohio Supreme Court to change how death penalty sentences are handed out in the state.
Maurice Mason's lawyers want the Ohio Supreme Court to change how death penalty sentences are handed out in the state.
Credit DRC
Maurice Mason's lawyers want the Ohio Supreme Court to change how death penalty sentences are handed out in the state.

A convicted killer is claiming that since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Florida’s capital punishment sentencing law in 2016, Ohio’s death penalty law is now unconstitutional.

He claims the ruling that a jury must sentence a defendant to death makes Ohio’s two-part sentencing process illegal.

Maurice Mason was convicted of raping and killing Robin Dennis in Marion in 1993. His attorney Kort Gatterdam told the Ohio Supreme Court that because juries recommend death sentences but judges then review and impose them, that makes Ohio’s law unconstitutional.

“It’s not simply saying that there can be no death penalty in Ohio. It’s saying that the jury has to make the decision, and there has to be a rewrite of the statute.”

But Marion County Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Collins said, while judges review jury recommendations, they can only lesson the penalty not increase it. He says that protects the offender.

“It’s just, it’s proper, and it is constitutional.”

Mason’s death sentence was overturned by a federal court; he’s now challenging a new sentencing hearing.

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