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U.S. Supreme Court Declines To Hear Challenge To Ohio Death Penalty Law

In this November 2005 file photo, Larry Greene, public information director of the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility, demonstrates how a curtain is pulled between the death chamber and witness room at the prison in Lucasville, Ohio.
Kiichiro Sato
Associated Press

The U.S. Supreme Court says it won’t hear a challenge to Ohio’s death penalty law in a case involving a convicted murderer and rapist from Marion.

The Supreme Court chose not to review a ruling from the Ohio Supreme Court in April that upheld the death sentence for 54-year old Maurice Mason. Mason’s team claimed Ohio’s death penalty law had the same problems as Florida’s, which the high court had ruled unconstitutional.

Kort Gatterdam, Mason’s attorney, says he’s disappointed but not dissuaded.

“It doesn’t mean they’re finding Ohio’s death penalty statute is constitutional,” Gatterdam said. “There may be another case down the road where they choose to hear this issue.”

The U.S. Supreme Court said the Florida law was unconstitutional because it gave judges too much authority to impose the death penalty.

Ohio’s Supreme Court ruled that though a judge sentences someone to death in Ohio, that authority comes directly from the jury. 

Mason was sentenced to death in 1993 for raping and killing a woman in Marion County. Authorities say he raped and physically abused a 19-year-old woman, who had given him a ride to his house.