OHIO (USA): GOVERNOR TED STRICKLAND GRANTED CLEMENCY TO SIDNEY CORNWELL
November 15, 2010: Ohio Governor Ted Strickland granted clemency to Sidney Cornwell a day before scheduled execution. Cornwell, 33, black, who killed three-year-old Jessica Ballew and 3 adults in June 1996, will now serve a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Strickland's decision, shifting Cornwell's sentence to life in prison without parole, goes against the 7-1 recommendation of the state parole board, whose members believed the execution should move ahead on Tuesday morning as scheduled.
In a statement Mr Strickland, a Democrat who was defeated in his bid for re-election on November 2, said: "There is absolutely no doubt that Mr Cornwell is guilty of the crime of aggravated murder - and he has admitted that." But Mr Strickland questioned "whether the death penalty is appropriate in this case given the fact that certain mitigating information was not available at the time the sentence was imposed."
Cornwell was recently diagnosed with Klinefelter syndrome, also known as the XXY condition, which describes males who have an extra X chromosome in most of their cells, meaning many of the males affected do not make as much testosterone as other boys during puberty.
Some males with the XXY condition exhibit symptoms during puberty including less facial and body hair, broader hips and larger breasts, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Some boys develop language problems and may struggle in school and sports. But according to NIH, adult XXY males live lives similar to men without the condition.
Mr Strickland said in his statement that there was a "substantial possibility that had the jury or sentencing judge known about Mr Cornwell's disorder, one or more of them would have found that the death penalty was inappropriate in this case."
"Because the trial jury and sentencing judge did not have information at the time of sentencing about Mr Cornwell's Klinefelter's syndrome, I have concluded that it would be inappropriate to proceed with the death penalty in this case," he said. The decision is the last Strickland must make regarding a death penalty case. He was defeated in this monthâs election and will be succeeded by Republican John Kasich in January. (Sources: Columbus Dispatch, 15/11/2010)