Maxwell White, Jr. was originally sentenced to death for killing State Trooper James Gross along I-71 near Mansfield. The sentence was set aside during an appeal because one of the jurors who was seated despite possible bias for capital punishment.
Another judge ruled that the death sentence remain vacated unless the penalty phase of White's trial is conducted again - complete with a new jury. Capital murder cases require the jury to participate in an additional phase of the trial. During the sentencing phase, jurors typically hear testimony from state witnesses to push for a recommendation of death and defense witnesses that usually talk about mitigating circumstances, or what things beyond the defendant's control that may have driven the violent behavior. The jury doesn't have the authority to impose a sentence, just a recommendation to the judge.
The Ohio constitution protects against retroactive sanctions. In other words, you can't be resentenced whenever a law changes that is tougher than the previous one. No suprise that White disagrees. The Ohio Supreme Court is ruling 5-2 that it's acceptable for a trial court to allow capital punishment to be considered under resentencing, if the crime took place before that part of the law changed but was set aside after the amendment.
This is the same Maxwell White, Jr. who was caught trying to escape from prison with Akron's now-executed Richard Cooey in 2005.
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