COLUMBUS — The Ohio Supreme Court today set a date more than two years away for the execution of one of two men who opened fire on eight people in a Lima, Ohio apartment during a 2002 drug-related robbery.
Two of the victims were killed, 17-year-old Leneshia Williams and 3-year-old Jayla Grant.
Cleveland R. Jackson, 35, faces lethal injection on Nov. 17, 2015. The high court has been scheduling executions at roughly the rate of a one per month and the line to the execution chamber is now backed up until then.
Jackson has exhausted his state and federal appeals. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear his final appeal earlier this year. His case is part of pending litigation challenging the state’s execution protocol, but he has not received a stay in U.S. District Court.
Jackson and his half-brother, Jeronique Cunningham, went to the apartment of Loyshane Liles on Jan. 3, 2002, to rob him after purchasing crack cocaine from him earlier in the day. After robbing him and seven others in the apartment, the pair opened fire on them at close range, wounding them all at least once.
The child was struck twice near her right ear and Miss Williams died from a single head wound.
No guns were recovered.
The Ohio Supreme Court later upheld Jackson’s convictions in both murders. But it struck down the death sentence related to the 3-year-old victim because the trial court had refused to allow Jackson’s lawyer to question jurors before the trial to determine if they held a bias in favor of the death penalty when it comes to the murder of children.
Jackson was later resentenced in Allen County Common Pleas Court to life without parole in Miss Grant’s killing, but the death penalty for Miss Williams’ murder stands.
The court has upheld the death sentences in both killings for Cunningham, but no execution date has been set. Today marks Cunningham’s 45th birthday.
Justice William M. O’Neill, elected last year, cast the sole dissenting vote against setting an execution date. He stated in a prior case that he believes Ohio’s death penalty is unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment.
Both Jackson and Cunningham are on death row in the Chillicothe Correctional Institution on aggravated murder, attempted aggravated murder, robbery, and other charges. The execution chamber is located at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility at Lucasville.