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Ohio Supreme Court Sets Death Penalty Arguments For Killer Of Five

Ohio Supreme Court chambers.
Dan Konik
Ohio Public Radio

Even after Ohio's governor put lethal injections on pause indefinitely, the Ohio Supreme Court on Tuesday scheduled oral arguments for and against executing a man who killed five people in separate slayings.

Death row inmate George Brinkman received separate death sentences for the killings in 2017. A three-judge panel in Cuyahoga County sentenced Brinkman to die for the June 10, 2017, killings of 42-year-old Suzanne Taylor and her daughters, 21-year-old Taylor Pifer and 18-year-old Kylie Pifer, at their home outside Cleveland.

A three-judge panel in Stark County also sentenced Brinkman to death for the killings of Rogell John and Roberta John a day later at their home where he was house sitting.

Defense attorneys argued the 48-year-old Brinkman had a traumatic childhood and mental health problems.

The state Supreme Court set arguments for March 4 via video conference because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Even if the court upholds Brinkman's death sentences, his execution could take years, if it's ever carried out. Ohio is under an official death penalty moratorium, with Gov. Mike DeWine saying that lethal injection is no longer an optionbecause of difficulties obtaining drugs for executions. The Republican governor has already postponed every single execution date since taking office last year.

It would take the Legislature to approve a new execution method, although Democrats and some conservatives have called on lawmakers to abolish the death penalty entirely.