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Local man's death-row appeal is rejected

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COLUMBUS - The Ohio Supreme Court yesterday unanimously rejected arguments that a Toledo man should not be executed for killing a disabled woman during a 2004 robbery designed to refuel a crack cocaine party.

James Frazier still can pursue appeals in federal court.

"We find nothing in the nature and circumstances of the offense to be mitigating," Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton wrote. "Frazier entered [Mary] Stevenson's apartment and murdered her by strangling her and slitting her throat. Afterwards, Frazier stole two of her purses and fled the scene. These facts establish a horrific crime without any mitigating features."

The state high court said it considered Frazier's background, noting that he had an unstable family life with little parental control, was borderline mentally retarded and a high school dropout, and was a drug and alcohol user.

He and others were smoking crack cocaine and drinking alcohol in his apartment when they ran out of crack late on the night of March 1 or early March 2, 2004. Frazier left the party for a time and apparently selected Ms. Stevenson, another Northgate Apartments tenant, as a robbery victim. Ms. Stevenson suffered from cerebral palsy.

When he returned, he was no longer wearing the T-shirt he left in. Police found that bloody T-shirt and a bloody knife matching those in Ms. Stevenson's apartment in trash at the apartment complex.

The court took aim at Frazier's claim that he is elderly and was 63 when the crime was committed. "Frazier's age had no effect on his ability to brutally murder Stevenson," Justice Stratton wrote. "Thus, we give little weight to his age as a mitigating factor."

In addition to aggravated murder, Frazier had been convicted of aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary in the case.

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