An Ohio lawyer is arguing that his client’s death sentence should be overturned because the execution will cost money.
In October 2008, Calvin C. Neyland, Jr. was convicted and sentenced to death for two counts of aggravated murder, but this week his defense lawyer appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court. Attorney Spiros Cocoves argued that Neyland’s execution places an unnecessary burden on taxpayers.
As a truck driver, Neyland had exhibited erratic behavior that drew customer complaints, so when he caused a traffic accident, his employer decided it was time to fire him. Neyland’s boss, Douglas Smith, was worried about dealing with the rogue driver on his own so he decided to call in Thomas Lazar, the company’s corporate safety director. Neyland shot and killed Smith and Lazar and ended up becoming Wood County’s only death row inmate.
Now, Neyland’s defense lawyer is arguing that since execution is so expensive, Neyland should instead face life without parole. According to The Blade, “The argument didn’t seem to resonate.”
As the Ohio Chief Justice pointed out, enacting and budgeting for a penal system is a function of the legislature and the courts cannot make policy decisions. Cocoves might have made a better case by evoking one of the common first degree murder defenses we mentioned in a previous post. In fact, the Ohio Supreme Court even pointed out that the question of whether or not Neyland suffers from mental illness is more relevant – insanity is a valid defense in a murder case.
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