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Published: Saturday, 4/8/2006

Killer's lawyer to ask board for clemency

BY JIM PROVANCE
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU
Clark Clark
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COLUMBUS - A lawyer for convicted murderer Joseph Lewis Clark will try to convince the Ohio Parole Board on Tuesday that Clark has changed since shooting David Manning to death during a Toledo gas station robbery 22 years ago.

Members of Clark's family are not expected to appeal personally to the board. His Akron attorney, George Pappas, stated in a clemency petition filed yesterday that Clark asked his family not to participate.

But three members of Mr. Manning's family - his wife, Mary Ellen, and two brothers, Michael and Stephen - are expected to join Lucas County Prosecutor Julia Bates in urging the board and Gov. Bob Taft not to interfere with Clark's scheduled May 2 execution. He would become the 21st person executed by Ohio and the first from Lucas County since the state resumed carrying out the death penalty in 1999. Mr. Pappas will cite Clark's history of drug addiction that began during his teen years with codeine cough syrup and escalated to barbiturates, amphetamines, and heroin. The petition states that Clark is deeply remorseful.

"There is no doubt that Joe Clark's drug addiction was inextricably linked to his criminal behavior," reads the petition. "Every offense he committed was the result of the influence of illicit drug abuse and addiction. This is a condition and secret which he concealed and protected within himself.

"Joe Clark's drug-induced state of mind during the commission of his criminal acts, his dull-normal range of intelligence, and inept ability to seek help to understand and treat his psychological issues all contributed to his life of crime over 20 years ago," it adds.

Clark shot and killed Mr. Manning, 23, on Jan. 13, 1984. The opposing petition filed by the state reminds the parole board that Mr. Manning's murder was part of a nine-day robbery spree.

Two days earlier, Donald Harris, 21, was shot in the back of the head during a store robbery in Toledo. Clark was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole for that murder.

A third man, Robert Roloff, was robbed and shot during a robbery at an ATM machine. Mr. Roloff survived, and the incident led to Clark's arrest and the recovery of the 32-caliber handgun that tied him to the two murders.

Included with the state's brief was a hand-written letter dated March 23 from Kim Reno, who was robbed by Clark at the gas station where she worked five days before Mr. Manning was killed.

"I don't believe he deserves to live any longer," she wrote. "He's lived [22] years longer than those whose lives he took that horrible week in January, 1984. And so many times I thought, 'It could have been me.'‚óŹ"

Clark's petition paints a picture of a man, now 57, who grew up in a household where there was no real discipline for bad behavior following the death of his father. During the seventh grade, he was sent to the Fairfield School for Boys.

On death row at the Ohio State Penitentiary at Youngstown, he will not be permitted to attend his hearing. He was interviewed in prison by a parole board member who will later report to the full board behind closed doors.

In the 23 cases that have come before him, Gov. Bob Taft has commuted just one sentence, that of Jerome Campbell of Hamilton County, to life in prison without parole. That followed new DNA evidence that, Mr. Taft said, shed doubt on the sentencing phase of the trial but not Campbell's guilt.

He recently granted delays in the execution of John Spirko in the murder of a Van Wert County postmaster while new DNA testing is conducted on 24-year-old evidence.

Contact Jim Provance at:

jprovance@theblade.com

or 614-221-0496.



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