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Parole Board urges no clemency for Franklin County murderer

(October 20, 2017) — The Ohio Parole Board recommended that Gov. John Kasich deny clemency to a Franklin County man who is scheduled to be executed next month.

Alva Campbell, 69, is scheduled to die in the Ohio death chamber at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility near Lucasville on Nov. 15. He was sentenced to death for the 1997 aggravated murder of 18-year-old Charles Dials in Franklin County.

The Board’s recommendation was an 11-1 vote in favor of denying clemency. “After balancing Campbell’s upbringing against those competing considerations, a majority of the Board finds that clemency would not further the interest of justice,” the clemency report states.

The sole parole board member who voted in favor of granting clemency argued the home Campbell was raised in was “characterized by unstable, inhumane living conditions and the absence of any moral or other parental guidance from his parents, all of which prevented Campbell from maturing and developing psychologically and emotionally.”

Campbell’s execution would be Ohio’s third in three years. Gary Otte was executed Sept. 13 after the administration of three lethal drugs, and Ronald

Phillips was executed July 26 after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the state’s lethal-injection protocol.

During a parole board hearing last week, attorneys and advocates who are trying to stop Campbell’s execution emphasized the horrors of his childhood at the hands of a drunken, abusive father, and a state system they say failed him when he entered it at age 10.

Previously, they argued Campbell’s too ill to lie flat on the execution table. Most of Campbell’s right lung has been removed, and he has emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and possibly cancer in much of his remaining lung tissue, according to Campbell’s application for executive clemency. His prostate gland has also been removed as well as a gangrenous colon. He must use a walker as a result of a broken hip last year.

“We are disappointed that the majority of the Parole Board minimized the effect of this traumatic childhood as a source of his adult criminal behavior,” David Stebbins, one of Campbell’s attorneys, said in a statement.

Stebbins, who also referenced Campbell’s poor health, is asking Kasich to grant clemency. A Kasich spokesman said he has not yet decided when he will make that call.

“Alva is terminally ill with a variety of chronic diseases,” Stebbins said. “He is unable to walk, or breathe without assistance and is dependent on an external colostomy bag for the most basic of bodily functions. Executing Alva Campbell under these unique circumstances will result in an unseemly spectacle.”

Both Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien have previously said they don’t believe Campbell should receive mercy. In the past, O’Brien has called Campbell “the poster child for the death penalty.”

Campbell was on parole from another murder conviction on April 2, 1997, when, after faking paralysis, he took a deputy’s gun and carjacked and murdered Dials. He had already copped to a string of armed robberies since being released from prison in 1992, meaning once his parole was revoked, he’d never get out.

When Campbell robbed and murdered William Dovalosky in a Cleveland tavern in 1972 he was also on parole at the time, from a 1967 conviction for shooting a State highway Patrol trooper. Tried as an adult at 16, he was convicted for the shooting and another string of armed robberies.

Megan Henry is a fellow in the E.W. Scripps Statehouse News Bureau.