By Kim Palmer
CLEVELAND (Reuters) - Ohio Governor John Kasich on Tuesday commuted the death sentence of a man scheduled to be executed July 26, marking the third time in 13 months the first-term Republican has halted a death sentence.
John Jeffrey Eley was convicted for shooting Ihsan Aydah dead during a 1986 robbery in Youngstown, Ohio. Eley confessed to the killing and was sentenced to death in 1987 after withdrawing a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.
Kasich commuted Eley's sentence despite the advice of the Ohio Parole Board, which voted not to grant clemency. Both the prosecutor and the lead detective in Eley's case told the parole board they had misgivings about the death penalty sentence.
Kasich said in a statement that although Eley, who has limited mental capacity, admitted to participating in Aydah's murder, he was under the direction of another man who was later acquitted.
"Without those factors it is doubtful that Eley would have committed this crime," Kasich's statement said.
Eley's sentence was commuted to life in prison without possibility of parole.
Last year, Kasich also commuted the death sentences of two other men to life in prison without possibility of parole after the Ohio Parole Board recommended clemency.
The death penalty in Ohio came under question in July 2011 when a federal judge issued a stay of execution for an inmate and called the state's practices haphazard. In April, the judge declared that the state had adequately fixed its procedures and allowed the execution of Mark Wiles to go forward April 18. Continued...