Executed April 24, 2007 11:23 a.m. by Lethal Injection in Ohio
14th murderer executed in U.S. in 2007
1071st murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
1st murderer executed in Ohio in 2007
25th murderer executed in Ohio since 1976
(Race/Sex/Age at Murder-Execution)
(Race/Sex/Age at Murder)
James J. Filiaggi
W / M / 28 - 41
W / F / 27
State v. Filiaggi, 86 Ohio St.3d 230, 714 N.E.2d 867 (Ohio 1999). (Direct Appeal)
Filiaggi v. Bagley, 445 F.3d 851 (6th Cir. 2006). (Habeas)
Steak, potato and cheese pirogies (stuffed dumplings), a baked potato, dinner rolls, fresh vegetables, strawberry cheesecake and milk.
"I know I flipped some worlds upside down. For me, it's fine, but the state needs to learn this ain't the answer. This is no deterrent to crime. Some are falsely convicted, railroaded. The state needs to wake up. Maybe they will follow the Europeans. God is the only one who knows."
Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (Executions)
NAME: James J. Filiaggi
INMATE #: A311-180
CRIME: Aggravated Murder
COUNTY: Lorain County
December 13, 2006 - NEWS RELEASE
CLEMENCY HEARING SCHEDULED FOR DEATH ROW INMATE JAMES FILIAGGI
(Columbus) – The Ohio Parole Board will conduct a death penalty clemency hearing for inmate James Filiaggi, # 311180, on Thursday, January 25, 2007. The hearing will be held at the Adult Parole Authority Office located at 1030 Alum Creek Drive, Columbus, Ohio at 10:00 a.m.
Any media wishing to attend this hearing should contact the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC) Public Information Office no later than Friday, January 19, 2007, to confirm attendance. Media attending the hearing should arrive at the site no later than 9:45 a.m.
Inmate James Filiaggi was sentenced to death out of Lorain County for the aggravated murder of Lisa Filiaggi. His execution is scheduled for Tuesday, February 13, 2007 at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio at 10:00 a.m.
Feel free to contact the DRC Public Information Office for further information at (614) 752-1150.
"Ohio executes man who changed mind on appeals," by Jim Leckrone. (Tue Apr 24, 2007 1:17PM EDT)
COLUMBUS, Ohio (Reuters) - A convicted murderer who stopped appealing his death sentence but then changed his mind and went to court five days ago was executed in Ohio on Tuesday after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to step in. Officials at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville said James Filiaggi, 41, was pronounced dead at 11:23 a.m. EDT 1523 GMT after an injection of lethal chemicals.
In his final words, Filiaggi said goodbye to his family and attacked capital punishment, saying "The state needs to find out this is not the answer, this is no deterrent to crime. Some are falsely convicted, railroaded. The state needs to wake up. Maybe they will follow the Europeans. God is the only one who knows."
Filiaggi was convicted of killing his ex-wife, Lisa, in January 1994. Police said he went to her home in Lorain, Ohio, chased her into a neighbor's house, found her hiding in a closet and shot her three times as she tried to flee again.
He had pleaded innocent by reason of insanity, citing a bipolar disorder. In April 2006, a three-judge federal appeals court panel upheld his conviction and death sentence and he gave up further appeals. But last Friday he asked for a stay so he could be included in litigation in Ohio which is challenging lethal injection as cruel and unusual punishment as proscribed by the U.S. Constitution.
His appeal was rejected by several lower courts but his execution was then put on hold pending a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court issued a one-sentence denial on Monday without comment, about 20 minutes after the execution was supposed to have taken place. He died about an hour later.
It was the 14th execution in the United States this year and the 1,071st since capital punishment was restored in 1976.
Filiaggi was given a meal of his choice Monday night, choosing steak, potato and cheese pirogies (stuffed dumplings), a baked potato, dinner rolls, fresh vegetables, strawberry cheesecake and milk.
"Filiaggi executed." (Tuesday, April 24, 2007 5:05 PM)
James J. Filiaggi was executed today for the murder of his his ex-wife, Lisa Huff Filiaggi, 13 years ago. Here are audio clips from a press conference following the execution.
"Murderer dies amid lethal-injection debate, by Alan Johnson) (Wednesday, April 25, 2007 3:37 AM)
LUCASVILLE, Ohio -- It is impossible to know what James J. Filiaggi felt as he was executed yesterday. But it's clear that his seemingly peaceful death was unlike the sheer terror his ex-wife faced 13 years ago as he dragged her into a neighbor's bathroom and shot her execution-style with a 9 mm Luger pistol.
Filiaggi, 41, of Lorain, was declared dead at 11:30 a.m. at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility near Lucasville. But the fierce debate over the humaneness and constitutionality of lethal injection lives on. "I know I flipped some worlds upside down," Filiaggi said as he lay strapped to the lethal-injection table in the small, windowless Death Chamber, where a large clock on the wall is the dominant feature. "For me, it's fine," he said. "But the state needs to learn this ain't the answer."
It was the answer for Ellen Jane Harris, who has wanted Filiaggi dead since he killed her daughter, Lisa, on Jan. 24, 1994. "He was an animal going after his prey," Harris told reporters after witnessing the execution. "I realize his death will not bring my daughter back, but he has caused harm and pain to so many other people over the years, both physical and emotional." Harris acknowledged that while some people believe that lethal injection is cruel, "I wish Lisa would have gone in such a peaceful manner."
Filiaggi's attorneys argued that the lethal combination of three drugs masks but does not eliminate excruciating pain, essentially torturing an inmate in the moments before death. A national study released Monday was critical of the fact that most states, including Ohio, do not adjust the amount of drugs administered based on the size and weight of prisoners. Filiaggi was 6 feet tall and weighed 225 pounds.
The execution was set for 10 a.m. but was delayed an hour for word on a final appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which was rejected shortly before 11 a.m. Filiaggi was the first person executed in Ohio during Gov. Ted Strickland's term. The 24 previous executions, going back to 1999 when Ohio started enforcing the death penalty again, occurred when Bob Taft was governor.
Described as "calm and compliant," the condemned man did not sleep Monday night. He spent his final hours meeting with family and friends at his cell-side or talking with them on the phone. He rambled during his final two-minute statement, expressing love for his two teenage daughters (who refused to attend the execution) as well as three friends who watched him die.
Jeffrey Gamso, one of Filiaggi's attorneys and the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, described the execution as "aggravated murder." He said the execution was arbitrary and dependent on timing. Had Filiaggi decided earlier to pursue his appeal, he would have joined nine other inmates in a lawsuit challenging lethal injection, "and he'd be alive right now."
Filiaggi was known as a "volunteer" because he chose to waive some of his late-stage appeals. However, late last week, he changed his mind and authorized Gamso to challenge injection as unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment. In a 96-hour flurry, Filiaggi's appeals were rejected by four courts. Strickland turned down two clemency requests, one of them on Monday.
Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Log records condemned inmate's last hours." (AP 4/26/2007, 6:26 p.m. ET)
(AP) — The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction has kept logs documenting condemned inmates' last hours since resuming executions in 1999.
Some excerpts from the log for James Filiaggi, executed Tuesday for the shooting death of his ex-wife ("I/M" is prison shorthand for inmate):
9:31 a.m.: "2 team members and I/M Filiaggi arrive at Death house."
11:20 a.m.: "Revision to special meal request: If pierogies are approved, Inmate Filiaggi would like chopped onions on top of them."
12:22 p.m.: "Warden telling him how visits will go."
4:37 p.m.: "I/M given clean pants and a smock for his visitation period."
7:50 p.m.: "Visits are very emotional."
8:24 p.m.: "Visits have concluded for the day and will resume in the morning."
10:59 p.m.: "I/M setting in chair talking on phone."
6:21 a.m.: "Visits to begin."
6:58 a.m.: "Visit very quiet, very emotional."
7:11 a.m.: "All 3 laughing loudly."
8:04 a.m.: "Mom tells him she loves him."
8:51 a.m.: "I/M and visitors praying."
10:07 a.m.: "I/M continues to sit and write letters."
10:23 a.m.: "Team Leader explains to I/M that U.S. Supreme Court denied his stay."
11:01 a.m.: "Warden is approaching cell front to read the death warrant."
11:10 a.m.: "Team is escorting I/M to death chamber."
11:23 a.m.: "Warden announces time of death."
11:28 a.m.: "Rev. Sims has entered chamber to annoint body & pray."
11:40 a.m.: "Funeral director has possession of the body."
Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Filiaggi sentenced to death," by Stephen Hudak. (Wednesday, August 2, 1995)
James J. Filiaggi was sentenced yesterday to die in the electric chair by the three-judge panel who found him guilty of murdering his ex-wife on Jan. 24, 1994. He stared wide-eyed at Judge Edward M. Zaleski who read the panel's verdict while his family wept and clutched one another in a row behind him. Filiaggi, 30, said nothing.
Jane Yepko, the mother of murder victim, Lisa Filiaggi, squeezed her husband, Delbert, so tightly his face turned as red as a third-degree sunburn. Filiaggi's father, James, shouted at her as she left the courtroom. "Now you put the children through it again, Jane," he said, apparently referring to his granddaughters who lost their mother and their custodial aunt, Anissa Huff, in a matter of months. Huff was killed in a car accident last year.
Approached outside the courtroom, the elder Filiaggi waved off reporters who were seeking an explanation, saying he needed a few days to think. His family and his son's girlfriend, Tracey Jones, left the courthouse on a fire escape, trailed by a wake of reporters and photographers.
Defense lawyer James Burge said he suspected frustration led to the father's outburst. "I'm sure he feels, as I do, his son is truly ill," Burge said.
But Jane Yepko said justice finally had been done. She also said she had done nothing to harm her grandchildren, Alexis and Jasmin, who have been in the custody of their father's parents for more than a year. "It was their son who murdered my daughter. I did not pull the trigger," said Yepko, who did not address the judges. "I did not raise their son."
Jonathan E. Rosenbaum, chief assistant prosecutor, implored the panel to impose the death penalty, calling Filiaggi's crime heinous and calculated. "He desired one thing and that was revenge," Rosenbaum said.
Judges Zaleski, Frank J. Horvath and Kosma J. Glavas were unmoved by a plea for mercy by Burge, who argued Filiaggi was too ill to stop his rampage. They deliberated about two hours.
Burge said Filiaggi lacked the chemical balance to shake thoughts of Lisa sleeping with another man and his daughters calling somebody else "Dad." Burge said on Mother's Day 1994, a psychiatrist finally prescribed an anti-depressant that enabled Filiaggi to control his explosive moods.
The defense called jail nurses, a social worker and a priest who testified that they noticed a calmer, gentler Filiaggi emerge after taking the medication. Burge asked the judges to spare Filiaggi the electric chair. "I can ask the court for mercy. Mercy, I suggest, for Jim Filiaggi's children but probably selfishly mercy also for me," the defense lawyer said.
Burge told the panel "I don't know if I could survive" if Filiaggi were put to death and the defense's medical theory was one day proved to be fact. If sentenced to prison, Filiaggi, 30, would have to serve 71 years behind bars before he made his first appearance before the state parole board. "It goes without saying he is going to die in prison," Burge said of Filiaggi. "The question is whether he is going to die in prison by your will or, as with most of us, by the will of another."
Rosenbaum, however, told the judges they ought to reject the defense's unproven medical theory and pick a punishment that fit the crime. "I submit to you, respectfully, that your duty is clear," he said.
Although the judges set an execution date, it is largely symbolic because of automatic appeals that will be taken up by the state's public defender. The date is Jan. 24, 1996, two years from the day that Filiaggi chased his wife to a neighbor's house and shot her twice at close range.
Sheriff's deputies said Filiaggi would be transported today from the County Jail to the Lorain Correctional Institution, an inmate reception center in Grafton. He is expected to join Ronald Post, John Simko Jr., Daniel Wilson and Freddie McNeill as the other Lorain County residents on death row at the Mansfield Correctional Institution.
Cleveland Plain Dealer
"THE OTHER VICTIMS: Filiaggi shattered lives of fiance," by Stephen Hudak. (July 24, 1995)
Every morning, when Eric Beiswenger brushes his teeth, he sees the love note Lisa Filiaggi taped inside his medicine cabinet two years ago. "I don't want to leave," Lisa, 27, scribbled before hurrying off to work while he slept, "but always remember that I love you very much!!"
Beiswenger can't bring himself to take it down or pack away her toothbrush and clothes or remove her photographs from his mantle or throw away the notebook in which she was planning their wedding. More than 18 months after Lisa's life was taken by her ex-husband, James J. Filiaggi, Beiswenger, 30, is struggling to get on with his own. "I lost my future. All my plans, all my dreams were shattered, and Lisa's too," he said on his front porch, their portrait cradled in his arms.
Filiaggi, 30, was convicted Wednesday by a three-judge panel of a series of felonies, the most serious of which was the slaying of his ex-wife on Jan. 24, 1994. Beiswenger said justice prevailed over the man who ruined his life.
Beiswenger and Lisa Filiaggi met in 1989 and became reacquainted in the summer of 1992 when Beiswenger walked into the Amherst salon where Lisa worked, and she cut his hair. She was pregnant with her second child but unhappy, telling him she was getting a divorce. He asked her if she might like to go out sometime.
They began dating in November 1992, shortly after the birth of her second child and about three months before her divorce was final. But it seemed Filiaggi was never far away. On the phone, in the parking lot, in the driveway. "But she was the right person, definitely the right person for me," Beiswenger said. "She was always smiling. Never, not even once, when he was hassling her, did she take anything out on me, and she could still smile."
They went kayaking in Cancun, canoeing on the Mohican River. They took Lisa's girls to the park, to the zoo, to Sea World. Beiswenger said he wanted to adopt them. Beiswenger, a chemical operator at the B.F. Goodrich Co. in Avon Lake, asked Lisa and the girls to move in with him, and she began to make wedding plans.
But there were hang-up phone calls, glue in the door locks and bottles, rocks and jars of motor oil thrown through the window of their home in Lorain. Beiswenger suspected Filiaggi was to blame for it all, and rigged two video cameras to spy on the house from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. and to catch him.
In December 1993, Beiswenger ended up in the emergency room with a broken cheekbone and plum-colored eye when he dragged Filiaggi off Lisa. About a month later, he had proof. One of the cameras caught Filiaggi on videotape throwing a bottle at the front window. Police planned to file charges. But, less than a week later, Filiaggi shot Lisa.
Beiswenger had bought her an engagement ring and a wedding band. "I wasn't going to take it back," he said. "I bought it for her. It was going to be on her hand one way or another." She was buried with it. "I date every now and then. But after Lisa died, I felt guilty about that. I don't know why. It's not like I'm cheating on her," Beiswenger said. "I think about Lisa every day. Her smile. It doesn't bother me. The thoughts are just there. Like her clothes, her pictures and the wedding stuff are just there."
He sees Lisa's daughters, Alexis and Jasmin, when they visit their maternal grandmother, Jane Yepko. He doesn't send letters because they live with Filiaggi's parents. "They run and jump all over me," Beiswenger said. "I miss them like I miss Lisa. Alexis told me once, "I'm glad you didn't die like mommy did." "
He said he would return to work today, leaning on his friends and his parents, who attended every day of Filiaggi's two-week, aggravated murder trial. "My life's going on," he said. "Slowly but surely, it's going on."
Meanwhile, a city away, the same bullet that killed Lisa broke Tracey Jones' heart. She was Filiaggi's girlfriend and hoped he would marry her. "I've asked him, "Why, honey, why, why, why, why, why," said Jones, 27. "He made me the happiest I had ever been in my life, and at the same time, he tore my world apart."
Jones met Filiaggi about seven years ago when she was a waitress and he was a bouncer at The Warehouse, a night club on Broad St. in Elyria. They became reacquainted in January, 1993, one month before his divorce was final and after she and her son, Jeremy, and daughter, Amanda, fled home from Houston and an abusive boyfriend. "We just clicked," Jones said. "I thought I'd found the right one."
She said they began dating frequently, and Filiaggi, who was living in the basement of his parents' home, often stayed the night at her house in Elyria. He had a good job as an accountant, did laundry and vacuumed. He took her 10-year-old son to wrestling practice twice a week and to wrestling tournaments on the weekends.
Jones, a nurse at a rehabilitation center in North Olmsted, said she never saw the brutal side of Filiaggi, who claimed to have been in 100 fights. She said he was rough with her only once, shoving her head against a car door in the Flats. She insisted she deserved it because she kicked papers in his car. Jones said Filiaggi was agitated by the thought of somebody adopting his children and believed Lisa unfairly limited his right to be with the girls.
But she never suspected he would hurt Lisa. Three hours before the murder, Jones was in bed with Filiaggi. She said she rolled over and began to cry. "I could tell something was wrong," she said. "I told him, "Please, don't ever leave me." He said, "I'll always be with you in spirit." Then he got up, got dressed and left."
Since Filiaggi's arrest 18 months ago, Jones has stood closest to him. He calls her collect from the jail every night to talk for 20 minutes. Her phone bill is $80 a month.
He sends her children letters stenciled with Disney characters. He includes riddles and jokes. He sends Jeremy math problems the boy sends back for Filiaggi to grade. "I feel bad because all the kids are victims, too. His kids, my kids," Jones said. "My son wanted him to adopt him, both before the murder and after the murder. [Jeremy] said he didn't care what Jim did."
Jones, who has been hospitalized for stress, said she stood by Filiaggi, not because she thought he was innocent but because she loved him. "A lot of people think I'm bad, too. I'm not bad," she said. "I haven't done anything wrong. The only thing I'm guilty of is loving him."
Jones prays the judges will spare Filiaggi's life Aug. 1 when they must choose the electric chair or life in prison with parole possible after 20 years. "What he did was terrible, but I don't think the death penalty's right. Two wrongs don't make a right," she said. "I don't think you should play God."
But Beiswenger views Filiaggi as a menace to society. "He deserves every volt and every amp he gets," Beiswenger said.
Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Filiaggi's reign of terror," by Molly Kavanaugh. (Thursday, January 27, 1994)
Plain Dealer ReporterLast weekend, Lisa Filiaggi and her family celebrated. For six months they had been trying to get proof that Lisa's ex-husband was responsible for repeated vandalism at her Lorain house and her parents' house in Amherst Township. Lisa finally had captured him on videotape vandalizing her house, and police had issued a warrant for his arrest on Friday.
Her sister, Anissa Huff, sent Lisa flowers and a note congratulating her for making the front page of The Morning Journal on Saturday, when it ran a story about the videotaping. Lisa's mother, Jane Yepko, was contacted in Florida, where she was visiting her ailing mother. "The police wanted proof," Yepko said. "We had it."
But the celebration ended Monday night when, police say, Lisa was fatally shot by her ex-husband. James Filiaggi, 28, is wanted by police in connection with Lisa's killing and an attack against her stepfather, Delbert Yepko.
Filiaggi was last seen with some friends Tuesday afternoon in Athens, O., said Lt. Jerry Elgin, a detective in the Athens Police Department. Athens police, who had prior run-ins with Filiaggi at Ohio University's annual Halloween parties in 1988 and 1993, knew him and were watching for him. "But we missed him ... by less than 30 minutes," Elgin said.
Yepko said the police should have picked up Filiaggi on the intimidation warrant prompted by the videotape before Filiaggi read about it in the paper.
But Lorain Capt. Celestino Rivera said the department had 1,300 outstanding warrants and the Friday warrant was probably not even processed until Monday. Rivera said the complaint was a public record, and they are required to release it. Rivera said that Lorain police had only one complaint from Lisa, the one captured on videotape last week. The prosecutor decided to charge Filiaggi with intimidation, a felony, rather than stalking, which is a misdemeanor the first time, Rivera said.
But Yepko said Lorain police and other law enforcement agencies did not take the threats against Lisa and the Yepkos seriously. The incident Lisa videotaped last week followed at least two other incidents at her home, Yepko said. The front picture window of Lisa's house was shattered twice, once by a jar full of used motor oil, the second time by rocks.
Lisa moved the television into another room so her two children would not be harmed and replaced the window with shatterproof plastic. When another bottle was thrown against the window, it didn't shatter, but the video camera recorded Filiaggi throwing the bottle.
Lisa also bought a gun and went to a shooting range to practice. In the past few weeks, Lisa walked around the house with a gun in one hand, a portable phone in the other, her sister said. But when Filiaggi broke down the back door of her house Monday night, police said, Lisa ran out the front door with only the phone in hand.
Last month Filiaggi was charged with assaulting Lisa and her fiance. An Elyria judge issued a protective order, ordering Filiaggi not to have any contact with Lisa. Lorain police were not aware of the order against Filiaggi or the pending charges, Rivera said.
Two domestic violence complaints, one family dispute, one aggravated burglary and four criminal damaging complaints from either Lisa or the Yepkos were investigated by the Lorain County Sheriff's Department since September 1992, soon after Lisa filed for divorce.
But either the family did not pursue charges or the Sheriff's Department had no evidence to link Filiaggi to the complaints, said sheriff's Capt. Joe Bell. "What we got here is the beginning of a divorce process, and things started to heighten," Bell said. "That is not uncommon in a divorce situation."
Bell said that the family never mentioned to detectives that Filiaggi always carried a .357-caliber Magnum pistol. "If they had told officers that, they would have put it in the report. They look at that real seriously," Bell said.
Lisa was pregnant when she and Filiaggi were married in December 1990. She lived in a mobile home next door to her mother while Filiaggi lived in Athens, where he attended Ohio University.
During their 1-year marriage, Lisa's mother would see bruises on her daughter or occasionally hear her talk of Filiaggi's threats, including putting a gun to her head. "She was too afraid to say anything, and she loved him," Yepko said. But she finally decided she had had enough and told him she was leaving in mid-1992. "As soon as they broke up, he was obsessed with her," Huff said. He sprayed tear gas all over her car, ordered magazines and sent them, along with the bill, to her house and retrieved messages from her answering machine, family members said.
Included in Lisa's divorce decree was a restraining order, which has only limited effect. Even if Filiaggi had been found in contempt of court, he would have probably spent less than 30 days in jail, said Lorain County Domestic Relations Judge Joseph Zieba.
Filiaggi was scheduled to appear in Lorain County Domestic Relations Court today on charges related to a property dispute involving the divorce. The reports of Filiaggi's violence had reached the court, said Zieba, and he had arranged to have a police officer in the courtroom. "I assumed we were going to have a problem," Zieba said.
Lisa seemed to assume the worst, too, family members said. She had bought a dress for her wedding in September, but told her fiance if something happened to her, she wanted to be buried in the dress. "What's it going to take for them to believe us," Lisa often said to her family about her frustrations with the police. "One of us dead?"
Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Man executed for killing ex-wife had record number of visitors," by Andrew Walsh-Huggins. (4/26/2007, 6:25 p.m. ET Associated Press)
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A man executed for chasing down and killing his ex-wife received the highest number of death house visitors — 24 — since Ohio resumed putting inmates to death in 1999, records show.
James Filiaggi met with his mother and father, sisters, brother, a Roman Catholic priest and numerous friends, most from Ohio University where Filiaggi attended college, before he was executed on Tuesday, according to a prison log of Filiaggi's last 26 hours reviewed by The Associated Press.
Filiaggi had twice as many visitors as the inmate with the next highest tally, Willie Williams, who received 12 visitors before his 2005 execution for killing four people in Youngstown. The log also revealed a little known fact about post-execution procedures in Ohio: Filiaggi was the seventh inmate whose body was anointed in oil and prayed over in a short religious ceremony by the prison system's chaplain.
Filiaggi, 41, was the 25th person executed in Ohio, the nation's second-busiest death penalty state, since 1999. Another execution is scheduled for next month.
College roommate Sean Recchi said Filiaggi was passionate about friends, regularly sending Christmas, birthday and anniversary cards from prison. "The reason everyone came around is because he always had everybody else's back," said Recchi, 38, a 1993 Ohio grad who now runs a bar in Lancaster in central Ohio. "If you ever needed anything, he'd be there for you."
Other visitors included students who lived near Filiaggi at the university and fellow members of the college rugby team.
On the night of Jan. 24, 1994, Filiaggi hunted down his ex-wife, Lisa Huff Filiaggi, forcing his way into a neighbor's home where he found her hiding. She tried to get away, but he shot her in the head.
Dennis Ray, Lisa Huff Filiaggi's second cousin, said he didn't know Filiaggi and couldn't speak to the type of person he was. "I'm glad that he had some loyal friends that would do that for him," Ray, 51, a Chillicothe high school teacher, said Thursday. "I don't think it changes what he did and the price our society says he has to pay for that."
The extra visitors did not cause any problems, said prisons spokeswoman Andrea Dean. The prison permitted them to visit in pairs; visits lasted about 20 minutes each, according to the log.
Filiaggi napped almost two hours Monday afternoon before visits began at 4:48 p.m., the log said. They lasted until 8:24 p.m., then resumed at 6:23 a.m. Tuesday and lasted until 8:57 a.m. He was executed at 11:23 a.m "If Jim Filiaggi loved you and you were his friend and you were someone he loved, he never forgot it, and you were solid with him," said Rev. Neil Kookoothe, a Roman Catholic priest in suburban Cleveland who visited Filiaggi for years on death row and witnessed the execution. "To have that many people down there is no surprise at all to me."
Filiaggi was particular about his final meals, according to the log. At 11:20 a.m. Monday, he revised his special meal request by asking for chopped onions on top of the pirogues he'd already requested.
The request was granted, but after the meal was delivered, Filiaggi asked for extra sour cream. That request also was granted. He also asked for a toothpick but was told there weren't any. Later Monday he asked for a soda, changed his mind and asked for a cup of iced water. Later, he asked for a cup of coffee.
Filiaggi was anointed by Rev. Gary Sims, the prison system's religious services administrator, who also read a Bible verse and recited the Lord's prayer. The anointing was not disclosed previously because Sims considered the act a private matter, Dean said. It was on Filiaggi's log because the execution team member recording the execution decided to note everything.
Akron Beacon Journal
"Ohio executes man who gunned down ex-wife," by John McCarthy. (AP Tue, Apr. 24, 2007)
LUCASVILLE, Ohio - A killer who decided in his final days to fight his death sentence was executed Tuesday for hunting down his ex-wife and shooting her in head.
James Filiaggi, 41, had given up his appeals in 2006 to speed up his sentence. He reconsidered late last week and tried unsuccessfully to get the courts to give him an emergency delay. Before he died by the injection that he argued amounted to torture, Filiaggi criticized the death penalty in his final statement, saying many innocent inmates are on death row. "For me - it's fine," he said.
The 11:23 a.m. execution happened about an hour and a half later than scheduled at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility because prison officials waited for a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court joined three other courts that rejected a delay for Filiaggi this week.
Filiaggi had hurt and threatened his ex-wife Lisa Huff Filiaggi before she was killed 13 years ago. They married in 1991, and she filed for divorce nine months later and received custody of their two young girls when the divorce was granted.
On the night of Jan. 24, 1994, she ran out her front door in Lorain as Filiaggi bashed through the back door. She hid in a neighbor's linen closet, but Filiaggi forced his way into that home and dragged her out, shooting her in the shoulder. She tried to get away, but he shot her in the head. "He was an animal out to get his prey," said Lisa Filiaggi's mother, Jane Harris, after she watched James Filiaggi die. "I wish Lisa would have gone in such a peaceful manner."
Attorneys for Filiaggi entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, arguing that a brain disorder made him unable to control anger-filled outbursts. Prosecutors said he knew right from wrong. A three-judge panel in Lorain County convicted him of aggravated murder and other charges in 1995.
Filiaggi had sought to join other Ohio inmates in a lawsuit over the constitutionality of the state's lethal injections, contending that the method constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. His attorneys said after the execution that he thought joining the lawsuit would help other inmates more than himself and that the challenge would have a better chance if he added to the number of plaintiffs.
Legal challenges of lethal injection have been filed in several states with mixed results. Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court delayed the execution of another inmate in Ohio after he joined the same lawsuit. Other executions in Ohio have been delayed in the past year because of the suit, although a former cult leader was put to death despite his appeal.
Filiaggi gave a thumbs up to his spiritual adviser when he walked into the death chamber, then repeated the gesture to three friends when he was strapped to a table.
The Filiaggis' daughters, now 16 and 14, are being raised by James Filiaggi's younger brother, Anthony, in Elyria. In a note to the Ohio Parole Board, 14-year-old Jasmin Filiaggi wrote that she had no sympathy for her father.
This was the first execution carried out under Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland, who took office in January. Strickland denied clemency last week, even though Filiaggi hadn't asked for his life to be spared. On Monday, Strickland refused Filiaggi's request for a reprieve to allow Filiaggi to pursue joining the lethal injection lawsuit.
Filiaggi was the 25th inmate that Ohio put to death since resuming executions in 1999. The others all were executed under former Gov. Bob Taft, a Republican.
Ohio Adult Parole Authority (Clemency)
STATE OF OHIO ADULT PAROLE AUTHORITY
Date of Meeting: January 25, 2007
Minutes of the SPECIAL MEETING of the Adult Parole Authority held at 1030 Alum Creek Drive, Columbus, Ohio 43205 on the above date.
James J Filiaggi A311-180
Death Penalty Clemency Report
The Ohio Parole Board with eight (8) members participating, by a vote of eight (8) to zero (0) recommends to the Honorable Ted Strickland, Governor of the State of Ohio, that Executive Clemency be denied in the case of James J. Filiaggi.
James Filiaggi and Lisa Huff married in December 1991. There were two daughters born during the marriage. Lisa filed for divorce in August 1992, and the divorce was granted in February 1993. Lisa received custody of the children, although Filiaggi had visitation rights. Filiaggi was required to pay child support. Relations between Filiaggi and Lisa were strained.
In the spring of 1993, Lisa and the two children moved into the home of Eric Beiswenger. In the fall of 1993, Lisa and Eric became engaged, and shortly thereafter, became the victims of telephone harassment and vandalism. Eric and Lisa suspected that Filiaggi was responsible for the acts, and set up video cameras hoping to capture him on tape. Lisa also carried a tape recorder with her.
In the fall of 1993, Lisa and Eric recorded a phone conversation in which Filiaggi told Lisa that there are going to be "more headaches and heartaches if she tries to get more money out of him." Lisa Filiaggi had wondered aloud to her family about when authorities would take her complaints seriously. "What's it going to take?" she asked her sister. "One of us dead?" The 27-year-old mother of two tried for months to stop an obsessive ex-husband from harassing her. She told police that he sprayed tear gas on her car and threw a can of motor oil and rocks through her front window. But there was never enough evidence to prosecute.
On December 19, 1993, Lisa and Eric went to the home of Filiaggi’s parents to pick up the children after a visit. Lisa carried a tape recorder in her pocket, which recorded the incident. Filiaggi and Lisa were arguing while Filiaggi put one child in a car seat in the back seat of the vehicle. After putting the child in the seat, Filiaggi grabbed Lisa around the neck and she began screaming. Eric, who was outside the vehicle, grabbed Filiaggi by the waist and pulled him off her. Filiaggi turned around and struck Eric in the face numerous times. Eric suffered multiple broken bones in his face. The assault ended when Filiaggi’s mother came out, grabbed Filiaggi, and yelled at him to stop.
The recording of the incident was admitted into evidence. Eric and Lisa pressed charges against Filiaggi, and he was arrested and indicted for felonious assault and domestic violence. He was released on bond awaiting trial.
The picture window to Eric’s house was also broken on numerous occasions. On January 20, 1994, the last time there was an attempt to break the window, the video camera recorded the incident and clearly showed Filiaggi as the person throwing a bottle at the window. Charges were filed against Filiaggi for attempted vandalism, criminal trespassing, and intimidation of a witness.
Two days later, Filiaggi purchased a 9mm Luger pistol, which had two clips for ammunition. He also purchased ammunition for the weapon, despite the fact that he already possessed another gun. According to the defense theory, he intended to go to Lisa’s house and kill himself in front of her. On January 24, 1994, Filiaggi took a $1,000 cash advance on his Visa card. He left six to seven hundred dollars with his girlfriend, Tracey.
At approximately 10:45 p.m., the Lorain Police Department dispatcher received a call from Lisa. The call was tape-recorded. Lisa told the dispatcher that her ex-husband, Filiaggi, was at her back door and was breaking into her house. Filiaggi broke down the door and entered the house. Still carrying the telephone, Lisa fled out the front door. A neighbor named Robert who lived two doors away saw Lisa standing in the yard of the intervening neighbor and frantically looking around. Another neighbor was awakened by someone screaming, "God help me, someone, please, help me, he’s going to kill me." Lisa saw Robert looking out the window and ran towards his front door. He let her in, and Lisa told him that her ex-husband was after her with a gun. She looked petrified and ran past him while Robert locked the door behind her.
Moments later, Robert heard a couple of bangs on the door and the door came crashing in. Filiaggi had a gun in his hand and asked Robert where she went. Robert said he did not know, and Filiaggi told Robert to help find her. They both started down the hallway. When they came to a linen closet, with the door partially open, Filiaggi opened the door and found Lisa. Filiaggi was very angry and pulled Lisa from the closet by the arm and swung her into the bathroom, which was across the hall from the closet. There was a struggle. Robert heard Filiaggi tell Lisa, "This will teach you to f*ck with me," and then heard two shots fired.
Although shot in the shoulder, Lisa was able to get away and run across the hallway into one of the bedrooms. Robert, standing partially in one of the bedrooms, was pleading with Filiaggi not to shoot her. Robert was in another bedroom and Filiaggi told Robert to close the bedroom door and stay out. Robert again heard Filiaggi tell Lisa, "This will teach you not to f*ck with me" and heard two more shots. Robert then heard footsteps down the hallway. Robert came out of the bedroom and saw Lisa slumped against the wall. She had been shot in the head. Robert attempted to call 911, but noticed a policeman coming through his front door.
About twenty minutes away, in Amherst Township, Lisa’s stepfather Delbert, was watching the news. At 11:15 p.m., he heard pounding at the front door. While he had a motion detector light on the side of the trailer, it was not on and the area outside the door was dark. He was home alone and had previously been vandalized, so he picked up a can of red pepper spray and went to the door. He opened the door about three inches and saw Filiaggi. Filiaggi then bashed the door in. Filiaggi came in the house and said, "Are you ready to die?" Delbert saw a gun in Filiaggi’s right hand. Filiaggi brought the gun up to shoot Delbert and said, "I’m going to kill you." Delbert sprayed Filiaggi in the face with the pepper spray, and Filiaggi shot at him twice, but did not hit him.
Delbert managed to get out of the trailer, without a coat or shoes. He ran to four separate trailers, knocking on doors, finally gaining admittance to the fourth one where he was able to call 911. He tried to call Lisa, but was shaking too badly.
On the morning of January 25, 1994, between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m., Filiaggi arrived at the home of a college friend. Filiaggi asked if he could "crash," and he laid down on the couch. The college friend took his girlfriend to work later that morning. His girlfriend later called him and told him that Filiaggi had killed Lisa. The man confronted Filiaggi about it. Filiaggi got up off the couch and a gun fell to the floor. Filiaggi then left the house.
On January 27, 1994, Filiaggi took another $1,000 cash advance. Filiaggi fled the state, but returned to Lorain, when he discovered that his parents may lose their house which had been put up for his bond on the previous charges. Filiaggi had rented a car at the Pittsburgh Airport that was later recovered in an area near Filiaggi’s parents’ home. The car contained the rental agreement as well as several rounds of 9 mm ammunition. The murder weapon was never found.
Filiaggi entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, claiming a poor diet was what caused him to react violently; the so-called "Twinkie defense." He also waived his right to be tried by a jury. A three-judge panel heard the evidence presented on all charges. The three-judge panel entered its verdict on the aggravated murder charge, but only the presiding judge entered a verdict on the remaining charges. The three-judge panel found Filiaggi guilty of aggravated murder and the three capital specifications: the offense was committed for the purpose of escaping detection, apprehension, trial, or punishment for another offense committed by Filiaggi; the offense was part of a course of conduct involving the purposeful killing of or attempt to kill two or more persons by Filiaggi; and the victim of the offense was a witness to prior offenses by Filiaggi and was purposely killed to prevent her testimony in a criminal proceeding concerning those prior offenses. The case proceeded to the penalty phase and the panel sentenced Filiaggi to death.
UPDATE: A condemned murderer who had hinged his appeals on a challenge to the execution procedure was executed by lethal injection at 11:23 am in Ohio. The execution was delayed by about 90 minutes while officials awaited a Supreme Court ruling in the case. James Filiaggi, 41, had given up his appeals in 2006 and asked to speed up his execution, but then reconsidered late last week and tried without success to delay his execution. The high court, as well as three other courts, ruled against Filiaggi during the final day before his scheduled execution.
In a final statement, Filiaggi suggested that there are many innocent inmates on death row. "For me - it's fine," he said. "I want to say thanks to my family for all the support," he said. "I'm sorry I flipped up the world."
Ohioans to Stop Executions
List of individuals executed in Ohio
A total of 25 individuals convicted of murder have been executed by the U.S. state of Ohio since 1976. All were executed by lethal injection.
Wilford Berry, Jr. (19 February 1999) Charles Mitroff
Jay D. Scott (14 June 2001) Vinnie M. Price
John William Byrd, Jr. (19 February 2002) Monte Tewksbury
Alton Coleman (26 April 2002) Tonnie Storey and Marlene Walters
Robert Anthony Buell (24 September 2002) Krista Lea Harrison
Richard Edwin Fox (February 12, 2003) Leslie Renae Keckler
David M. Brewer (April 29, 2003) Sherry Byrne
Ernest Martin (June 18, 2003) Robert Robinson
Lewis Williams, Jr. (14 January 2004) Leoma Chmielewski
John Glenn Roe (3 February 2004) Donette Crawford
William Dean Wickline (30 March 2004) Peggy and Christopher Lerch
William G. Zuern, Jr. (8 June 2004) Phillip Pence
Stephen Allan Vrabel (14 July 2004) Susan Clemente and Lisa Clemente
Scott Andrew Mink (July 20, 2004) William Mink and Sheila Mink
Adremy Dennis (October 13, 2004) Kurt Kyle
William Smith (March 8, 2005) Mary Bradford
Herman Dale Ashworth (27 September 2005) Daniel L. Baker
William James Williams, Jr. (25 October 2005) William Dent, Alfonda R. Madison, Sr., Eric Howard and Theodore Wynn Jr.
John R. Hicks (29 November 2005) Brandy Green
Glenn L. Benner II (7 February 2006) Trina Bowser, Cynthia Sedgwick
Joseph L. Clark (4 May 2006) David Manning
Rocky Barton (12 July 2006)
Darrell Ferguson (8 August 2006) David A. Gowdown, Dennis J. Langer, Jeffrey M. Welbaum
Jeffrey Lundgren (24 October 2006) Dennis Avery, Cheryl Avery, Trina Avery, Rebecca Avery, Karen Avery
James J. Filiaggi (24 April 2007) Lisa Huff Filiaggi
National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
James Filiaggi, April 24, OH
Do Not Execute James Filiaggi!
Ohio is scheduled to execute James Filiaggi on April 24, 2007, for the Jan. 1994 murder of Lisa Huff.
The state of Ohio should not execute Filiaggi for his role in this crime. Executing Filiaggi would violate the right to life as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and would constitute the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. Furthermore, there is an issue as to whether or not the defendant was competent to waive his right to a trial by jury due to the painkillers he was on from an incident earlier on the day of his hearing.
Please write to Gov. Ted Strickland on behalf of James Filiaggi!
Ohio Death Penalty Information (James J. Filiaggi)
State v. Ohio,1999.
State v. Filiaggi, 86 Ohio St.3d 230, 714 N.E.2d 867 (Ohio 1999). (Direct Appeal)
Defendant was convicted in the Court of Common Pleas, Lorain County, of aggravated murder of his ex-wife and other offenses, and he was sentenced to death. Defendant appealed. The Court of Appeals affirmed. Defendant appealed. The Supreme Court, Lundberg Stratton, J., held that: (1) defendant did not prove he was incompetent to stand trial; (2) court was not required to advise defendant, before accepting his jury waiver, of presumption of correctness attached to findings of three-judge panel; (3) record did not support defendant's claim that his jury waiver was not knowing, intelligent and voluntary; (4) three-judge panel should have determined non-capital charges and capital charge; (5) court properly refused to admit reports of defense experts; (6) evidence showed that defendant did not qualify for insanity defense; (7) evidence supported finding of two aggravating circumstances; (8) aggravating circumstances outweighed mitigating factors; and (9) death sentence was not disproportionate. Judgment affirmed in part, reversed in part, and cause remanded. Pfeifer, J., concurred in judgment only. Cook, J., concurred in part and dissented in part with opinion.
This appeal involves charges from two separate incidents concerning the defendant-appellant, James J. Filiaggi, and his ex-wife, Lisa Huff Filiaggi. The first incident resulted in charges of felonious assault and domestic violence; the second incident resulted in charges of aggravated murder, attempted aggravated murder, aggravated burglary, and kidnapping. A three-judge panel convicted defendant and sentenced him to death for the aggravated murder of Lisa Huff Filiaggi (“Ms. Filiaggi”).
Defendant and Ms. Filiaggi married in December 1991. There were two children born during the marriage. Ms. Filiaggi filed for divorce in August 1992, and the divorce was granted in February 1993. Ms. Filiaggi received custody of the children, although defendant had visitation rights. Defendant was required to pay child support. Relations between defendant and Ms. Filiaggi were strained.
In the spring of 1993, Ms. Filiaggi and the two children moved into the home of Eric Beiswenger. In the fall of 1993, Ms. Filiaggi and Beiswenger became engaged, and shortly thereafter, became the victims of telephone harassment and vandalism. Beiswenger and Ms. Filiaggi suspected that defendant was responsible for the acts, and set up video cameras hoping to capture him on tape. Ms. Filiaggi also carried a tape recorder with her.
In the fall of 1993, Ms. Filiaggi and Beiswenger recorded a phone conversation in which defendant told Ms. Filiaggi that there are going to be “more headaches and heartaches if she tries to get more money out of him.”
On December 19, 1993, Ms. Filiaggi and Beiswenger went to the home of defendant's parents to pick up the children after a visit. Ms. Filiaggi carried a tape recorder in her pocket, which recorded the incident. Defendant and Ms. Filiaggi were arguing while defendant put one child in a car seat in the back seat of the vehicle. After putting the child in the seat, defendant grabbed Ms. Filiaggi around the neck and she began screaming. Beiswenger, who was outside the vehicle, grabbed defendant by the waist and pulled him off her. Defendant turned around and struck Beiswenger in the face numerous times. Beiswenger suffered multiple broken bones in his face. The assault ended when defendant's mother came out, grabbed defendant, and yelled at him to stop. The recording of the incident was admitted into evidence.
Beiswenger and Ms. Filiaggi pressed charges against defendant, and he was arrested and indicted for felonious assault and domestic violence. He was released on bond awaiting trial.
The picture window of Beiswenger's house was also broken on numerous occasions. On January 20, 1994, the last time there was an attempt to break the window, the video camera recorded the incident and clearly showed defendant as the person throwing a bottle at the window. Charges were filed against defendant for attempted vandalism, criminal trespassing, and intimidation of a witness.
Two days later, defendant purchased a 9 mm Luger pistol, which had two clips for ammunition. He also purchased ammunition for the weapon, despite the fact that he already possessed another gun. According to the defense theory, he intended to go to Ms. Filiaggi's house and kill himself in front of her.
On January 24, 1994, defendant took a $1,000 cash advance on his Visa card. He left $600 to $700 with his girlfriend, Tracey Jones. At approximately 10:45 p.m., the Lorain Police Department dispatcher received a call from Ms. Filiaggi. The call was tape-recorded. Ms. Filiaggi told the dispatcher that her ex-husband, defendant, was at her back door and was breaking into her house. Defendant broke down the door and entered the house. Still carrying the telephone, Ms. Filiaggi fled out the front door. A neighbor, Robert Mutnansky, who lived two doors away, saw Ms. Filiaggi standing in the yard of the intervening neighbor and frantically looking around. Another neighbor was awakened by someone screaming, “God help me, someone, please, help me, he's going to kill me.” Ms. Filiaggi saw Mutnansky looking out the window and ran towards his front door. He let her in, and Ms. Filiaggi told him that her ex-husband was after her with a gun. She looked petrified and ran past him while Mutnansky locked the door behind her.
Moments later, Mutnansky heard a couple of bangs on the door and the door came crashing in. Defendant had a gun in his hand and asked Mutnansky where she went. Mutnansky said he did not know, and defendant told Mutnansky to help find her. They both started down the hallway. When they came to a linen closet, with the door partially open, defendant opened the door and found Ms. Filiaggi. Defendant was very angry and pulled Ms. Filiaggi from the closet by the arm and swung her into the bathroom, which was across the hall from the closet. There was a struggle. Mutnansky heard defendant tell Ms. Filiaggi, “This will teach you to fuck with me,” and then heard two shots fired.
Although shot in the shoulder, Ms. Filiaggi was able to get away and run across the hallway into one of the bedrooms. Mutnansky, standing partially in one of the bedrooms, was pleading with defendant not to shoot her. Mutnansky was in another bedroom and defendant told Mutnansky to close the bedroom door and stay out. Mutnansky again heard defendant tell Ms. Filiaggi, “This will teach you not to fuck with me” and heard two more shots. Mutnansky then heard footsteps down the hallway. Mutnansky came out of the bedroom and saw Ms. Filiaggi slumped against the wall. She had been shot in the head. Mutnansky attempted to call 911, but noticed a policeman coming through his front door.
About twenty minutes away, in Amherst Township, Delbert Yepko, Ms. Filiaggi's stepfather, was watching the news. At 11:15 p.m., he heard pounding at the front door. While he had a motion detector light on the side of the trailer, it was not on and the area outside the door was dark. He was home alone, and his house had previously been vandalized, so he picked up a can of red pepper spray and went to the door. He opened the door about three inches and saw defendant. Defendant then bashed the door in.
Defendant came in the house and said, “Are you ready to die?” Yepko saw a gun in defendant's right hand. Defendant brought the gun up to shoot Yepko and said, “I'm going to kill you.” Yepko sprayed defendant in the face with the pepper spray, and defendant shot at him, but did not hit him. Yepko managed to get out of the trailer, without a coat or shoes. He ran to four separate trailers, knocking on doors, finally gaining admittance to the fourth one, where he was able to call 911. He tried to call Ms. Filiaggi, but was shaking too badly.
On the morning of January 25, 1994, between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m., defendant arrived at the home of Howard R. Matlack, a college friend. Defendant asked Matlack if he could “crash,” and he lay down on the couch. Matlack took his girlfriend to work later that morning. His girlfriend later called Matlack and told him that defendant had killed Ms. Filiaggi. Matlack confronted defendant about it. Defendant got up off the couch and a gun fell to the floor. Defendant then left Matlack's house.
On January 27, 1994, defendant took another $1,000 cash advance. Defendant fled the state, but returned to Lorain, when he discovered that his parents might lose their house, which had been put up for his bond on the previous charges. Defendant had rented a car at the Pittsburgh Airport that was later recovered in an area near defendant's parents' home. The car contained the rental agreement as well as several rounds of 9 mm ammunition. The murder weapon was never found.
Defendant entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. He also waived his right to be tried by a jury. A three-judge panel heard the evidence presented on all charges. The three-judge panel entered its verdict on the aggravated murder charge, but only the presiding judge entered a verdict on the remaining charges.
The three-judge panel found defendant guilty of aggravated murder and the three capital specifications: the offense was committed for the purpose of escaping detection, apprehension, trial, or punishment for another offense committed by defendant (R.C. 2929.04[A] ); the offense was part of a course of conduct involving the purposeful killing of or attempt to kill two or more persons by defendant (R.C. 2929.04[A] ); and the victim of the offense was a witness to prior offenses by defendant and was purposely killed to prevent her testimony in a criminal proceeding concerning those prior offenses (R.C. 2929.04[A] ). The case proceeded to the penalty phase and the panel sentenced defendant to death. The court of appeals affirmed the convictions and death sentence.
The cause is now before this court upon an appeal as of right.
Gregory A. White, Lorain County Prosecuting Attorney, and Jonathan E. Rosenbaum, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for appellee. Jack W. Bradley, Lorain, and Renee W. Green, Akron, for appellant.
LUNDBERG STRATTON, J.
In this appeal, defendant raises twelve propositions of law. We sustain defendant's fourth proposition of law and remand the cause to the trial court. We affirm defendant's aggravated-murder conviction, and after independently reviewing the record, weighing the aggravating circumstances against the mitigating factors, and examining the proportionality of the death sentence in this case to the penalty imposed in similar cases, we affirm defendant's sentence of death.
Competency to Stand Trial
The trial proceedings were set to begin on July 11, 1995. Defendant had entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity; however, the question of competency had not been raised. On the way to the courthouse for the start of the trial, officers shackled defendant and placed a stun belt on him for security purposes. En route, defendant was accidentally shocked by the stun belt. As a result, he was shaken up, and evidence indicated that he might have been placed on Valium. The court recessed until that afternoon. When court resumed, defendant, with his three attorneys present, waived his right to trial by jury. After opening arguments, eight state's witnesses testified. Court then recessed for the day.
The next morning, July 12, 1995, defense counsel told the trial court that in the opinion of all three defense counsel, defendant was not competent to stand trial, i.e., to understand the nature of the charges against him or to assist in his defense. The court contacted the local forensics center and requested that the defendant be examined to determine if he was competent. The forensics center immediately accommodated the court's request, and court recessed for the day.
On July 13, 1995, the court held a competency hearing. Defendant gave counsel permission to proceed without him. Dr. Thomas Haglund, who had examined defendant on July 12, testified that he had interviewed defendant for about forty-five minutes. He related that defendant believed that he was still receiving shocks from the stun belt. Dr. Haglund indicated that defendant was quite tense and agitated during the interview. At one point during the interview, defendant began to lose control, breathed more rapidly, and his legs and feet began to shake.
On cross-examination, Dr. Haglund testified that he did not think that defendant was malingering. It was his opinion that given the state that defendant was in as a result of the stun belt incident, he was concerned about defendant's mental condition and did not think defendant was able to continue with the trial. Although Dr. Haglund had not talked with defendant on the day of the competency hearing, he testified that he believed the defendant's emotional state could be turned around quickly and was on a day-to-day status.
Dr. Haglund also testified that during the interview, defendant was mentally alert, oriented, and able to answer questions. When questioned, defendant was able to tell Dr. Haglund what he had been charged with and who his attorneys were, as well as give a brief description of the testimony from the day before. Defendant understood that he was under a doctor's care, and identified his doctor and the medications he was currently receiving. Defendant also knew why he was on the medications.
In response to the prosecutor's questions, Dr. Haglund stated that defendant understood the proceedings against him, and was able to consult with his attorneys and to assist in preparing his defense. Again, on cross-examination, Dr. Haglund testified that he believed defendant to be able to assist in his own defense and to consult with counsel and understand the court proceedings. Defense counsel declined to call any witnesses, nor did counsel offer any testimony to contradict Dr. Haglund's findings or his report that the defendant had slept well and was in acceptable physical condition at the time of the examination.
The court determined that defendant was competent to stand trial, and that the trial would proceed. Defense counsel requested that Dr. Haglund be given the opportunity to examine defendant again, and also requested that defendant's own treating psychiatrist be given the opportunity to examine him. The court determined that other evidence concerning defendant's medical condition was not relevant on this point. Defense counsel's motion for a mistrial was overruled.
After one state's witness testified, defense counsel put the following matters on the record: that defendant was brought into court in a wheelchair with handcuffs, leg irons and a body belt; that in defense counsel's opinion, defendant was incoherent; that he was not following the proceedings and could not communicate or assist defense counsel; that defense counsel did not believe that defendant was malingering; and that his pulse rate was one hundred twenty. Defense counsel again requested a mistrial. The prosecutor responded that defense counsel had several opportunities to speak with defendant throughout the day and never mentioned to the court that defendant was incoherent before the deputies transported defendant to court. The prosecutor stated that, in his opinion, defendant was malingering. The motion for mistrial was denied.
When the trial resumed on July 14, defense counsel again indicated that he did not think that defendant was competent to proceed. However, defense counsel did not file any additional information to support these allegations. Further, a deputy who guarded the defendant during the noon recess testified that defendant was doing stretching exercises, seemed to be fine, was not shaking, was in control of himself, and was conversing in a normal tone with his lawyers. The court overruled the motion, as well as defense counsel's motion for a mistrial.
Defense counsel made similar motions concerning defendant's competence and requested a mistrial throughout the course of the trial. Again, these motions were unsupported and consequently were denied.
After defendant was convicted and sentenced to death, defense counsel filed a motion for new trial on the grounds that defendant was not competent to stand trial. Attached to the motion were affidavits by his counsel and a physician, and a report by the psychiatrist who had been treating defendant before and during trial. The defendant also attached a report of a radiology examination that was performed on July 21, 1995 (after the date of conviction but before the sentencing phase), which indicated that there had been some change in defendant's brain since a prior examination on March 25, 1995. The affidavits and report described some physiological observations of defendant during the course of trial, which included increased respiration, elevated pulse, sweating, shaking, and stammering. The trial court denied the motion for new trial.
Former R.C. 2945.37, in effect at the time of defendant's trial, provided: “(A) In a criminal action in a court of common pleas or municipal court, the court, prosecutor, or defense may raise the issue of the defendant's competence to stand trial. * * * If the issue is raised after trial has begun, the court shall hold a hearing on the issue only for good cause shown. “A defendant is presumed competent to stand trial, unless it is proved by a preponderance of the evidence in a hearing under this section that because of his present mental condition he is incapable of understanding the nature and objective of the proceedings against him or of presently assisting in his defense. “ * * * “The prosecutor and defense counsel may submit evidence on the issue of the defendant's competence to stand trial.”
When the question of competency arose, the court, having determined that there was good cause, ordered that defendant be examined. A hearing was held the day after the evaluation. Pursuant to R.C. 2945.37, the defense had the burden of proving that defendant was incompetent. The only witness called during the hearing was Dr. Haglund.
As stated, Dr. Haglund testified that defendant was competent to stand trial. Dr. Haglund wavered only on the issue of whether defendant was capable of going forward with the trial due to his mental/emotional state. However, this had more to do with the stun belt incident and some follow-up incidents where correction officers attempted to restrain him before transport. These events served as the basis for Dr. Haglund's desire to reexamine defendant, not that defendant had somehow become incompetent from the previous day.
At the time the trial court was called upon to decide defendant's competence, the information indicated that although shaken from the stun belt incident, defendant had come to trial that afternoon, July 11, waived his right to a jury trial, and sat through a half a day of testimony. The court based its determination of competence on those factors, in combination with Dr. Haglund's opinion and the court's own observations of the defendant's behavior. Defendant did not carry his burden of proving incompetence.
After the trial court found defendant competent, defense counsel persisted in their efforts to obtain an additional evaluation of competence. Their requests were based on their own observations of defendant during the trial proceedings. Even though defendant was being treated by a psychiatrist who examined him four days after the stun belt incident, an affidavit by the doctor was not presented until the new trial motion was filed. Based on the evidence presented at the time of the hearing, the trial court's decision was proper.
The record indicates that defense counsel raised concerns about defendant's mental state during the course of the trial. Given that defense counsel are officers of the court, their assertions cannot be dismissed. However, in State v. Chapin (1981), 67 Ohio St.2d 437, 21 O.O.3d 273, 424 N.E.2d 317, we held: “An unqualified suggestion of defendant's incompetency to stand trial by defense counsel during trial without additional objective indications such as, but not limited to, supplemental medical reports, defendant's conduct at trial or specific reference to defendant's irrational behavior or the like does not meet the ‘good cause shown’ standard of R.C. 2945.37.” Id., paragraph one of the syllabus.
During the course of the trial, defense counsel filed no additional information to support their allegations of incompetency. Further, defense counsel's statements must be balanced against the court's own observations, as well as the statements of the deputy sheriffs who also observed defendant (although such statements were not under oath). Considering the totality of the evidence, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying the motions for additional evaluation and mistrial.
While defendant did file additional information with his motion for new trial, the standard of review remains whether the trial court abused its discretion. State v. Schiebel (1990), 55 Ohio St.3d 71, 564 N.E.2d 54, paragraph one of the syllabus; State v. Williams (1975), 43 Ohio St.2d 88, 72 O.O.2d 49, 330 N.E.2d 891. In the entry denying the new trial motion, the presiding judge considered the additional medical evidence, and still determined that defendant was competent to stand trial. That determination was based on the court's own observations, as well as unrefuted representations of correctional officers who observed defendant showering, eating meals, and conversing with other inmates, correctional officers and, upon request, with his attorneys. The detailed entry of the trial court fails to support defendant's claim that the court's decision was unreasonable, arbitrary, or unconscionable. Thus, we find no abuse of discretion. State v. Adams (1980), 62 Ohio St.2d 151, 158, 16 O.O.3d 169, 173, 404 N.E.2d 144, 149. Accordingly, we overrule defendant's first and second propositions of law.
Jury Waiver Colloquy
In his third proposition of law, defendant makes two specific arguments concerning his jury waiver on July 11. First, he argues that a jury waiver in a capital case is not made knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily unless the defendant is aware of all the implications of the waiver. Second, he argues that because he was accidentally shocked with the stun belt on the morning of trial, and was on Valium as a result, his waiver was not knowing, voluntary, and intelligent.
Defendant first asserts that this court's decision in State v. Post (1987), 32 Ohio St.3d 380, 513 N.E.2d 754, is inconsistent with State v. Jells (1990), 53 Ohio St.3d 22, 559 N.E.2d 464, paragraph one of the syllabus. We held in Post, “[T]his court indulges ‘ * * * in the usual presumption that in a bench trial in a criminal case the court considered only the relevant, material, and competent evidence in arriving at its judgment unless it affirmatively appears to the contrary.’ ” Id., 32 Ohio St.3d at 384, 513 N.E.2d at 759, quoting State v. White (1968), 15 Ohio St.2d 146, 151, 44 O.O.2d 132, 136, 239 N.E.2d 65, 70. In Jells, we held that there is no requirement for a trial court to interrogate a defendant in order to determine whether he or she is fully apprised of the right to a jury trial. Defendant now argues that after this court's decision in Post, the defendant must be advised of the presumption of correctness that will attach to the findings of the three-judge panel.
Since Jells holds that no inquiry is required, the trial court's failure to make specific inquiries of the defendant cannot be error. “While it may be better practice for the trial judge to enumerate all the possible implications of a waiver of a jury, there is no error in failing to do so.” Id., 53 Ohio St.3d at 26, 559 N.E.2d at 468. Here, the trial judge read the waiver aloud, and asked defendant if “this [was] your desire?” Defendant answered in the affirmative. Pursuant to Jells, no more was required.
Defendant also argues that his waiver was not knowing, intelligent, and voluntary because “the waivers were signed at a time shortly after appellant had been administered the shock of 50,000 volts of electricity from a stun belt he was wearing * * * [and] had just been placed under the influence of Valium.” The record supports defendant's claim that he was shocked by the stun belt; however, the record does not indicate the voltage level. The record also indicates that the trial judge stated: “The defendant is shaken, and he may be on Valium.” The court took a recess directly after this incident for the remainder of the morning, and the court then reconvened at 1:30 p.m. Immediately upon reconvening, the parties addressed the subject of the waivers and made opening statements. Nothing indicates that defendant was unable to make a decision concerning the jury waiver. Defendant was represented by three attorneys, one of whom was a physician, and they never indicated that defendant would not be able to waive his right to a jury. Further, while defense counsel requested a mistrial and additional evaluations of defendant during the course of the trial alleging incompetence, they never asked the court to revisit the jury waiver issue. The record does not support defendant's claim that his waiver was not knowing, intelligent, and voluntary. Therefore, we overrule this proposition of law.
Determination of the Charges by One versus Three Judges
The presiding judge consolidated defendant's cases. The first case (No. 93CR044726) included charges of felonious assault and domestic violence after an altercation by defendant with Ms. Filiaggi and Beiswenger in December 1993. The second case (No. 94CR044866) involved charges of aggravated murder, attempted aggravated murder, aggravated burglary, and kidnapping on January 24, 1994. Defendant filed a motion to consolidate the cases for trial, which was granted. Defendant waived his right to be tried by a jury in both cases. However, in the second case, the three-judge panel decided only the aggravated murder count and the accompanying specifications. The presiding judge alone determined all the remaining charges (attempted aggravated murder, aggravated burglary, and kidnapping) connected to the death penalty case. In his fourth proposition of law, defendant challenges that procedure. Defendant does not challenge the convictions for felonious assault and domestic violence (No. 93CR044726), the consolidated case.
It is clear from the jury waiver colloquy that the presiding judge thought that defendant was entitled to a three-judge panel only on the aggravated murder charge, and that he alone should determine guilt on the remaining counts. Defendant signed the waivers. The three trial judges sat and collectively listened to all the testimony as to all the charges, but the panel entered its verdicts only on the aggravated murder charge and specifications. The presiding judge decided the remaining charges.FN1
FN1. The presiding judge found defendant not guilty of the kidnapping charges. The state contends that defendant consented to the procedure and therefore waived any error. However, we conclude that this jurisdictional matter cannot be waived.
R.C. 2945.06 provides: “If the accused is charged with an offense punishable with death, he shall be tried by a court to be composed of three judges, consisting of the judge presiding at the time in the trial of criminal cases and two other judges to be designated by the presiding judge or chief justice of that court, and in case there is neither a presiding judge nor a chief justice, by the chief justice of the supreme court. The judges or a majority of them may decide all questions of fact and law arising upon the trial; however, the accused shall not be found guilty or not guilty of any offense unless the judges unanimously find the accused guilty or not guilty.” (Emphasis added.)
In State v. Smith (1997), 80 Ohio St.3d 89, 104, 684 N.E.2d 668, 684-685, the defendant argued that even though all charges were present in the same indictment, his noncapital offenses were separate from the capital offenses, and thus he should be allowed to appeal the noncapital offenses to the court of appeals. We held, however, that we had jurisdiction over the entire case, and not just certain counts, charges, or sentences. Here, the statute makes no provision for trying the noncapital counts by a single judge when a three-judge panel tries the capital offenses. In the thirty-eight previous three-judge panel cases reviewed by this court, no previous trial court has interpreted R.C. 2945.06 as did the presiding judge (and the court of appeals) in this case.
We find persuasive the cogent reasoning of another state court that faced a similar situation: “[W]here it is apparent from the allegations that the matter alleged is within the class of cases in which a particular court has been empowered to act, jurisdiction is present. Any subsequent error in the proceedings is only error in the ‘exercise of jurisdiction,’ as distinguished from the want of jurisdiction in the first instance. * * * “ ‘[I]n cases where the court has undoubted jurisdiction of the subject matter, and of the parties, the action of the trial court, though involving an erroneous exercise of jurisdiction, which might be taken advantage of by direct appeal, or by direct attack, yet the judgment or decree is not void though it might be set aside for the irregular or erroneous exercise of jurisdiction if appealed from . It may not be called into question collaterally.’ ” (Emphasis sic.) In re Waite (1991), 188 Mich.App. 189, 200, 468 N.W.2d 912, 917, quoting Jackson City Bank & Trust Co. v. Fredrick (1935), 271 Mich. 538, 544-546, 260 N.W. 908, 909.
We have consistently required strict compliance with Ohio statutes when reviewing the procedures in capital cases. See State v. Pless (1996), 74 Ohio St.3d 333, 658 N.E.2d 766, paragraph one of the syllabus.
Since R.C. 2945.06 mandates that “the accused shall not be found guilty or not guilty of any offense unless the judges unanimously find the accused guilty or not guilty,” the presiding judge did not have sole authority to enter a verdict on the noncapital charges. Thus, the trial is still incomplete because outstanding charges remain to be decided by the three-judge panel. See State v. Green (1998), 81 Ohio St.3d 100, 689 N.E.2d 556, syllabus.
Therefore, we reverse and remand to the trial panel the verdicts on the non-capital offenses, attempted aggravated murder, aggravated burglary, and kidnapping. Upon remand, the trial panel is required to proceed from the point at which the error occurred. Montgomery Cty. Commrs. v. Carey (1853), 1 Ohio St. 463, paragraph one of the syllabus; State ex rel. Stevenson v. Murray (1982), 69 Ohio St.2d 112, 113, 23 O.O.3d 160, 160-161, 431 N.E.2d 324, 325. Thus, the three-judge panel, having already heard all of the evidence, should reconstitute itself and deliberate anew on the charges of attempted aggravated murder, aggravated burglary, and kidnapping. The three-judge panel, as a whole, considered the aggravated murder charge, specifications, and penalty, as required by the statute; therefore, the verdicts on that charge are not affected.
Inquiry on Waiver of Right to Testify
In his fifth proposition of law, defendant argues that he was deprived of due process rights because the trial court did not, sua sponte, inquire as to whether his “failure to testify was a result of his own thinking.”
We recently addressed this issue for the first time in State v. Bey (1999), 85 Ohio St.3d 487, 499, 709 N.E.2d 484, 497, and held that “a trial court is not required to conduct an inquiry with the defendant concerning the decision whether to testify in his defense.” (Emphasis added.)
In this case, nothing in the record suggests that defendant was unaware of his right to testify or that defendant's counsel failed to advise him of his right. Nothing suggests that defendant wanted to testify or was denied the opportunity to do so. Accordingly, we overrule defendant's fifth proposition of law.
Failure to Admit Psychological Reports
Defendant presented a clinical psychologist and three psychiatrists as experts during the defense case. The state called one forensic psychiatrist to testify in rebuttal. At the close of the rebuttal case, the state moved for the admission of the report that its expert had prepared. Defense counsel objected, arguing that the court heard the testimony, but the court admitted the report. At that point, defense counsel asked the court to admit his experts' reports. The prosecutor objected, arguing, “[T]hey had their chance, it's not their case.” The trial court denied the defense's request. In his sixth proposition of law, defendant argues that the trial court erred in refusing to permit the admission of the defense experts' reports.
R.C. 2945.10(C) specifies the order of proceedings at trial: “The state must first produce its evidence and the defendant shall then produce his evidence.” “The state will then be confined to rebutting evidence, but the court, for good reason, in furtherance of justice, may permit evidence to be offered by either side out of its order.” R.C. 2945.10(D). Moreover, this court has held that “[t]he admission or exclusion of relevant evidence rests within the sound discretion of the trial court.” State v. Sage (1987), 31 Ohio St.3d 173, 31 OBR 375, 510 N.E.2d 343, paragraph two of the syllabus.
The appropriate time for defense counsel to have requested admission of the reports of the defense experts was during the defense's case. While it certainly was within the court's discretion to have admitted the reports at the close of the rebuttal case, the court's refusal to admit the reports does not constitute an abuse of discretion, which would be “more than an error of law or of judgment; it implies that the court's attitude is unreasonable, arbitrary or unconscionable.” State v. Adams (1980), 62 Ohio St.2d 151, 157, 16 O.O.3d 169, 173, 404 N.E.2d 144, 149. Defendant has not met that burden here.
Further, even if the trial court erred in excluding the reports, the error was harmless. The court had the opportunity to hear all the witnesses testify in person and, therefore, the information given by the experts was conveyed to the trial court and the reports were merely cumulative. Accordingly, we overrule this proposition of law.
Failure to Find Defendant Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity
Defendant entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. A plea of not guilty by reason of insanity is an affirmative defense that must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence. State v. Brown (1983), 5 Ohio St.3d 133, 5 OBR 266, 449 N.E.2d 449. A person is not guilty by reason of insanity only if he or she proves that “at the time of the commission of the offense, he did not know, as a result of a severe mental disease or defect, the wrongfulness of his acts.” Former R.C. 2901.01(N); 2901.05.
Four experts testified for the defense, and one for the state. In his seventh proposition of law, defendant argues that the panel “simply lost its way in the thicket of expertise.” Defendant appears to be arguing that he met his burden of proving the defense of not guilty by reason of insanity by a preponderance of the evidence and that the trial court's finding to the contrary was against the weight of the evidence.
Defendant offered the testimony of a clinical psychologist (Dr. Marc Robert Pagano) and three psychiatrists (Drs. J. Alexander Bodkin, Paul Jay Markovitz, and Emil F. Coccaro). None of the defense experts was qualified in the field of forensics. The rebuttal expert called by the state was a forensic psychiatrist (Dr. Phillip Resnick).
Dr. Pagano examined defendant and diagnosed him as suffering from intermittent explosive disorder and bipolar disorder at the time the offenses were committed. Dr. Pagano relied on accounts by defendant, his family, and defense counsel, and did nothing to verify the accuracy of the information. He specifically stated that he was not giving an opinion on the question of legal insanity.
Dr. Bodkin also examined defendant and determined that he suffered from bipolar disorder and intermittent explosive disorder. He opined that defendant, because of these diseases, did not know the wrongfulness of his conduct at the time of the murder and attempted murder. Dr. Bodkin also received all of his information used to evaluate defendant from the defendant himself, the defendant's family, and the defense team. He did not believe that defendant was being untruthful or malingering.
Dr. Markovitz also diagnosed defendant as having bipolar disorder, intermittent explosive disorder, and attention deficit disorder. He testified that, based on defendant's conduct, if he had been treating defendant in the two weeks preceding the murder, he would have hospitalized him as suicidal. He further opined that on the day of the incident with Beiswenger, and on the day of the murder, defendant did not know right from wrong. He based his analysis on the facts of the case, his interview with defendant, defendant's lifelong behavior patterns, biochemical studies, and overview of his life. He also did nothing to verify the information provided by the defense.
Dr. Coccaro did not examine defendant, but examined his medical and chemical test results. He concluded that defendant suffered from bipolar disorder and intermittent explosive disorder. His testimony echoed the other doctors' testimony concerning defendant's chemical imbalance. However, Dr. Cocarro conceded that it was possible for a person with a history of impulsive aggressive behavior to plan a premeditated, intentional crime that the person knows is wrong.
Dr. Resnick was the forensic psychiatrist who testified on behalf of the prosecution. Dr. Resnick explained that a forensic psychiatrist evaluates people who are in some form of litigation, either civil or criminal, and the person being evaluated is in the human sense trying to manage the impression he creates, whether it is to look disabled, more insane, etc. Therefore, the forensic psychiatrist, unlike the clinical psychiatrist, does not take at face value what the evaluee reports, but relies more heavily on objective evidence, such as police reports, witnesses' reports, employer reports, and school reports, and does not assume that everything being said is truthful.
In preparing for his testimony, Dr. Resnick spent five and a half hours with defendant and another two and three-quarter hours with him another day. Dr. Resnick interviewed defendant's mother, father, and girlfriend. He reviewed detailed police reports, witnesses' reports, police records regarding earlier charges, and deputies' accounts of assaults made by defendant. He reviewed a response to a motion to compel the production of records, the indictment, reports of Drs. Bodkin, Markovitz, Pagano, and Coccaro, reports of the hospital dietician, and various other medical reports.
Dr. Resnick diagnosed defendant as having antisocial personality disorder, alcohol abuse, and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder of childhood. He further stated that defendant did not suffer from any mental diseases on the day of the killing that would meet the Ohio legal test (for insanity) and that defendant knew the wrongfulness of his conduct. His opinion was that defendant committed the crimes out of vengeance. Defendant expected to go to prison, he expected to lose his job, and the court had already told him that he was not allowed to see his children. Dr. Resnick stated that while defendant was contemplating suicide, he decided, in Dr. Resnick's opinion, to kill Ms. Filiaggi.
“The weight to be given the evidence and the credibility of the witnesses concerning the establishment of the defense of insanity in a criminal proceeding are primarily for the trier of the facts.” State v. Thomas (1982), 70 Ohio St.2d 79, 24 O.O.3d 150, 434 N.E.2d 1356, syllabus. The trial panel clearly expressed what its responsibilities were regarding the findings it needed to make. The court found that “the defendant has failed to prove by a preponderance of evidence his claim of insanity at the time of the acts involved. This Court specifically finds that the defendant knew of the wrongfulness of his acts in this case.”
Even if the defense experts' diagnoses are taken as true, Dr. Resnick's testimony (as well as that of lay witnesses) concerning the defendant's state of mind at the time of the crime, as well as steps defendant took to evade capture by the police, indicates that defendant knew the wrongfulness of his conduct.
Dr. Resnick testified that there was no evidence that defendant was confused at the time of the killing. He parked around the corner from his ex-wife's house to keep from being seen. He went to the back door because he knew there was a light by the front door. He pursued Ms. Filiaggi into the home of a neighbor, Mutnansky. When in Mutnansky's home, defendant told Mutnansky to stay in the other bedroom and close the door. Dr. Resnick noted that this showed that defendant did not want anyone to witness the killing. This was also evidence that defendant's actions were not an uncontrolled rage, but a plan aimed at Ms. Filiaggi.
Dr. Resnick indicated that information contributed by the family could be used to help the clinical experts to determine whether defendant was suffering from a severe mental disease, but the issue of whether defendant knew the wrongfulness of his act would depend in part on his answers regarding his conduct and other objective police data. From the police reports, Dr. Resnick obtained additional information not available to the other experts, indicating the charges against defendant, his checking into a hotel under a false name, and his changing license plates, etc. This evidence demonstrates that defendant knew the wrongfulness of his conduct. In addition, through a telephone call, defendant learned that the police were tracing his whereabouts by his use of a money machine card, so he stopped using that card. Dr. Resnick pointed to this as an example of clear, logical thinking.
Defendant reported no delusions, hallucinations, or false beliefs that caused him to think that killing Ms. Filiaggi was the right thing to do. In fact, Dr. Resnick testified that defendant volunteered to him the statement, “I know right from wrong.” Defendant expressed no remorse and Dr. Resnick opined that defendant had revenge for a motive, and not a psychotic motive.
All the defense experts conceded that a person with the mental conditions that they identified in defendant could commit a premeditated murder with the knowledge that it was wrong. We conclude that the evidence clearly showed that defendant did not suffer from any mental diseases that would qualify for the insanity defense under Ohio law and that the defendant knew the wrongfulness of his conduct. Accordingly, we overrule defendant's seventh proposition of law.
Trial Panel's Opinion
When a sentence of death is imposed, R.C. 2929.03(F) requires that the court or the three-judge panel issue a separate opinion weighing the mitigating factors and aggravating circumstances in the case, and stating why the aggravating circumstances were sufficient to outweigh the mitigating factors. In his eighth proposition of law, defendant makes generalized complaints concerning the panel's opinion. But none of defendant's complaints has merit.
First, defendant argues that the panel, although making a “generic statement” that the death penalty specifications charged in the indictment were proven beyond a reasonable doubt, made the more specific finding that they were supported by “substantial, credible evidence.” In the trial phase of the case, the panel found defendant guilty of the three aggravating circumstances beyond a reasonable doubt. The panel's opinion specifically states: “The panel finds that the Defendant was found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of committing the following aggravating circumstances: * * *.” (Emphasis added.) The panel then lists each circumstance and sets forth that there was “substantial and credible evidence” presented to prove each one. Defendant argues that this constitutes error because substantial, credible evidence is not equivalent to proof beyond a reasonable doubt. We do not agree that the panel's use of the term “substantial, credible evidence” undermines its specific finding that appellant was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.FN2
FN2. The trial court erred in not merging two of the aggravating circumstances (R.C. 2929.04[A] and [A] ); however, the court of appeals merged them in conducting its independent review.
Second, defendant argues that the panel failed to indicate with sufficient specificity how it determined the weight to be given each mitigating factor and how it balanced those factors against the aggravating circumstances. Pursuant to R.C. 2929.03(F), the trial court was required to state its specific findings as to the existence of any of the statutory mitigating factors as well as any other mitigating factors. This is exactly what the panel did. The panel examined the statutory factors listed in R.C. 2929.04(B), and defendant's history, character, and background. The panel assigned weight to the factors it found present in defendant's case.
Defendant's complaint is that the panel did not explain how it determined the weight given to the factors considered. However, there is no requirement that the panel explain how it decides how much weight to give to any one factor. The weight, if any, given to a mitigating factor is a matter for the discretion of the individual decisionmaker. State v. Fox (1994), 69 Ohio St.3d 183, 193-194, 631 N.E.2d 124, 132; State v. Mills (1992), 62 Ohio St.3d 357, 376, 582 N.E.2d 972, 988.
Finally, defendant argues that the panel incorrectly treated its conclusion that the offense was planned and calculated as a nonstatutory aggravating circumstance. Defendant reaches this conclusion by citing the portion of the opinion in which the panel sets forth the reasons why the aggravating circumstances outweigh the mitigating factors: “The evidence showed that the Defendant's actions were planned and calculated.” The panel's conclusion came at the end of a lengthy recitation of the facts of the case. Indeed, the evidence did show that defendant's actions were planned and calculated. But, given the context of the sentence in the whole of the opinion, nothing leads us to believe that the panel weighed this as an additional aggravating circumstance.
In Fox, 69 Ohio St.3d at 192, 631 N.E.2d at 131, this court specifically admonished trial courts to “carefully comply with every specific statutory requirement of R.C. 2929.03(F).” Here, the panel did. Based on all the foregoing, we overrule this proposition of law.
Scope of Proportionality Review
In his ninth, tenth, and eleventh propositions, defendant asks the court to revisit State v. Steffen (1987), 31 Ohio St.3d 111, 31 OBR 273, 509 N.E.2d 383, paragraph one of the syllabus, concerning the universe of cases to be considered by an appellate court when conducting the proportionality review required by R.C. 2929.05(A). Defendant presents no new arguments concerning this issue and, therefore, based upon Steffen, these propositions are overruled. State v. Poindexter (1988), 36 Ohio St.3d 1, 520 N.E.2d 568, syllabus.
Constitutionality of the Death Penalty
Defendant argues that Ohio's capital sentencing scheme violates various provisions of the United States and Ohio Constitutions. This court has examined and disposed of these same issues in numerous cases. See State v. Jenkins (1984), 15 Ohio St.3d 164, 15 OBR 311, 473 N.E.2d 264; State v. Sowell (1988), 39 Ohio St.3d 322, 336, 530 N.E.2d 1294, 1309; State v. Steffen, supra; State v. Grant (1993), 67 Ohio St.3d 465, 483, 620 N.E.2d 50, 69; State v. Maurer (1984), 15 Ohio St.3d 239, 15 OBR 379, 473 N.E.2d 768, paragraph six of the syllabus; State v. Lewis (1993), 67 Ohio St.3d 200, 206, 616 N.E.2d 921, 926; State v. Buell (1986), 22 Ohio St.3d 124, 22 OBR 203, 489 N.E.2d 795; State v. Phillips (1995), 74 Ohio St.3d 72, 656 N.E.2d 643; State v. Coleman (1989), 45 Ohio St.3d 298, 308, 544 N.E.2d 622, 633; State v. Smith, supra. Thus, we overrule defendant's twelfth proposition of law.
INDEPENDENT SENTENCE REVIEW
Defendant was convicted of aggravated murder committed with prior calculation and design. He was also convicted of three separate aggravating circumstances: (1) that the offense was committed for the purpose of escaping detection, apprehension, trial, or punishment for another offense committed by defendant (R.C. 2929.04[A] ); (2) that the offense was part of a course of conduct involving the purposeful killing of or attempt to kill two or more persons by defendant (R.C. 2929.04[A] ); and (3) that the victim of the offense was a witness to prior offenses by defendant and was purposely killed to prevent her testimony in a criminal proceeding concerning those prior offenses (R.C. 2929.04[A] ). The court of appeals merged the R.C. 2929.04(A)(3) and (A)(8) factors, leaving the 2929.04(A)(5) and (A)(8) factors.
This court, as part of the independent review mandated by R.C. 2929.05(A), must determine whether the evidence supports the trial court's findings of the aggravating circumstances of which the defendant was found guilty. We find that the state clearly met its burden on both aggravating circumstances.
Both the state and federal Constitutions prohibit conviction of any person except upon proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In examining claims based upon insufficient evidence, a reviewing court will ask whether after viewing the probative evidence and inferences reasonably drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found all the essential elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. State v. Jenks (1991), 61 Ohio St.3d 259, 574 N.E.2d 492; State v. Eley (1978), 56 Ohio St.2d 169, 10 O.O.3d 340, 383 N.E.2d 132. The test is whether there is “substantial evidence upon which a [factfinder] could reasonably conclude that all the elements of an offense have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.” Eley at syllabus.
R.C. 2929.04(A)(8) specifically provides that the “victim of the aggravated murder was a witness to an offense who was purposely killed to prevent the victim's testimony in any criminal proceeding * * * [or] was purposely killed in retaliation for the victim's testimony in any criminal proceeding.” (Emphasis added.)
While there had been ongoing hostility between defendant and Ms. Filiaggi, defendant did not kill Ms. Filiaggi until she and her fiancé, Eric Beiswenger, filed charges against defendant. Defendant assaulted both of them on December 19, 1993, and Ms. Filiaggi and Beiswenger had audio-recorded the assault. Ms. Filiaggi brought a complaint for domestic violence and Beiswenger brought a complaint for felonious assault. Ms. Filiaggi had witnessed the felonious assault against her fiancé and the domestic violence against her by defendant. A grand jury indicted defendant for both crimes on December 28, 1993. Further, Ms. Filiaggi and Beiswenger brought a complaint against defendant for attempted vandalism, criminal trespassing, and intimidation after an incident on January 20, 1994, when defendant threw a bottle at their living room window. Ms. Filiaggi had also videotaped the defendant throwing the bottle at her house. Similarly, the state could have called Ms. Filiaggi as a witness at defendant's trial on these charges. Two days after the bottle-throwing incident, defendant purchased a semiautomatic pistol. Two days after that, defendant murdered Ms. Filiaggi on January 24, 1994.
Defense counsel attempted to portray defendant as suicidal, claiming that he did not intend to kill Ms. Filiaggi, but only to take his own life in front of her. We find that defendant's actions belie that theory. On January 24, 1994, defendant took out a $1,000 cash advance on his Visa card. Defendant left $600 or $700 with his girlfriend, Tracey Jones. The record does not show what the defendant did with the balance of the cash advance. After he murdered his ex-wife, defendant attempted to kill his ex-father-in-law and then fled. Defendant took another $1,000 cash advance on his Visa, switched license plates with a stolen car, rented a car at an airport, and registered at a hotel under a false name. We conclude that this evidenced defendant's plan to flee the jurisdiction after murdering the key witness, Ms. Filiaggi.
We find that the state presented sufficient evidence to prove that the filing of these complaints was one of the reasons that defendant killed Ms. Filiaggi. The law does not require it to be the sole reason. Despite the long history of hostilities, there was never any physical attempt on Ms. Filiaggi's life until after she brought the charges. In addition, defendant stated twice to Ms. Filiaggi at the time of the shootings that “[t]his will teach you * * * to fuck with me.” This evidence, along with the closeness in time to the filing of the complaints, creates a strong inference that supports the state's theory of an attempt to avoid criminal responsibility by killing a witness. In addition, the evidence also supports the theory that defendant killed Ms. Filiaggi in retaliation for her testimony in a criminal proceeding, i.e., the bringing of the complaint. Before he murdered Ms. Filiaggi, he told her twice, “This will teach you * * * to fuck with me.” Consequently, we find that the state proved this aggravating circumstance beyond a reasonable doubt.
We now examine the evidence supporting the aggravating circumstance that Ms. Filiaggi's murder was part of a course of conduct. The evidence clearly shows that defendant purposely killed Ms. Filiaggi and then proceeded to the home of Ms. Filiaggi's parents. Ms. Filiaggi's stepfather, Delbert Yepko, answered the door. Defendant asked him if he was ready to die, said, “I'm going to kill you,” and then aimed the gun at him. Had Yepko not used the pepper spray against defendant, Yepko would most likely have also been killed. This aggravating circumstance is also supported by sufficient evidence to make defendant death-eligible.
Nothing in the nature and circumstances of the offense is mitigating. Defendant was angry at Ms. Filiaggi for the trouble she was allegedly causing him. He perceived that she was antagonizing him, using his children to punish him, and always trying to get more money out of him. Moreover, Ms. Filiaggi had just pressed charges against defendant twice and would likely have been a witness at his trials on these charges. However, Ms. Filiaggi did nothing to provoke defendant at the time of the murder.
Some mitigating factors are present in defendant's history, character, and background under R.C. 2929.04(B)(7). His mother and sister testified that when his sister was ill as a child, defendant stayed by her side and helped to take care of her. Defendant spent four years in the Army and achieved the rank of sergeant. He saved money while in the Army, went to college on the GI Bill, and graduated cum laude. Defendant married Ms. Filiaggi while still in college, and after the children were born, he was described as a loving father to them. Throughout college, defendant supported his family. Defendant maintained fairly steady employment and paid his child support at the time the crime occurred. These factors are entitled to some weight. See, generally, State v. Reynolds (1998), 80 Ohio St.3d 670, 686-687, 687 N.E.2d 1358, 1374; State v. Getsy (1998), 84 Ohio St.3d 180, 207, 702 N.E.2d 866, 891; State v. Mitts (1998), 81 Ohio St.3d 223, 236, 690 N.E.2d 522, 533.
We must now determine under R.C. 2929.04(B)(3), whether at the time of committing the offense, defendant, because of a mental disease or defect, lacked substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law. The defense experts during the trial phase claimed that defendant suffered from bipolar disorder and intermittent explosive disorder. This diagnosis was based on testimony of family members who related incidents in defendant's past concerning his allegedly uncontrollable temper and his propensity for violence. From the age of five, defendant would act aggressively with very little provocation. When defendant was in the second grade, he hit his teacher. He then began counseling, which continued for a three-year period, with very little improvement. The court heard about other incidents concerning altercations he was involved in throughout the course of his life.
Defendant's parents testified that he would always express remorse and take responsibility for these rages after they had occurred, but he did not seem able to control himself at the time. His brother indicated that defendant would not incite fights, but it would not take much to get him fighting.
While the defense witnesses portrayed the defendant's anger problems as uncontrollable, Dr. Phillip Resnick testified that defendant has the ability to control his aggression if it benefits him, or use violence to achieve a purpose. Dr. Resnick explained that defendant engaged in two types of aggression: impulsive aggression and controlled aggression. The impulsive aggression was evidenced by defendant going into a rage and losing control. However, there were numerous examples of defendant's ability to control his aggression. For example, defendant's mother relayed to Dr. Resnick that when defendant was a child, if he wanted the remote control for the TV and one of his sisters would not give it to him, he would punch her and take it. Dr. Resnick explained that this behavior is not rage, but using aggression to accomplish a purpose. Another example of defendant's ability to control his aggression is his history in the military. Dr. Resnick indicated that the defendant told him that because of the consequences, he would walk away from many fights because the military is a more controlled society with regard to consequences. Dr. Resnick testified that defendant behaved similarly while on the job, i.e., did not get into fights, because he knew that there would be serious consequences. Therefore, when defendant was more likely to “get away with it,” he was more likely to act on impulse. However, if he was fearful of facing the consequences, he was able to control his temper.
As mentioned previously, four experts testified for the defense regarding defendant's mental condition at the time of the crimes. Dr. Pagano diagnosed defendant with bipolar disorder and intermittent explosive disorder. First, Dr. Pagano testified that in the manic phase of bipolar disorder, defendant would be more impulsive and more easily provoked. Again, as mentioned above, Dr. Pagano also testified that he did not read any police reports, and that he relied on the accounts by the defendant, his family, and defense counsel. In addition, he did nothing to verify the accuracy of this information.
Second, Dr. Bodkin also testified that he believed that defendant suffered from bipolar disorder and intermittent explosive disorder. In addition, Dr. Bodkin believed that defendant suffered from attention deficit disorder. Again, Dr. Bodkin received all of his information used to evaluate defendant from the defendant himself, the defendant's family, and the defense team.
Third, Dr. Markovitz testified that at the time of the offenses, defendant suffered from bipolar disorder, attention deficit disorder, and intermittent explosive disorder. Dr. Markovitz testified that he did not believe that defendant was aware of or had the ability to reflect on what he was doing at the time he murdered Ms. Filiaggi.
Finally, Dr. Coccaro also concluded that defendant suffered from intermittent explosive disorder and bipolar disorder. Again, as noted above, Dr. Coccaro testified that he also had done nothing to independently verify the information he reviewed. Instead, he relied on the reports of Drs. Markovitz and Bodkin. Significantly, Dr. Coccaro conceded that it was possible for a person with a history of impulsive aggressive behavior to plan a premeditated, intentional crime that the person knows is wrong.
Dr. Resnick, the only forensic psychiatrist to testify at the trial, testified on behalf of the prosecution. Based on his interviews, reviews of police records, witness reports, deputy accounts, and other documents mentioned above, Dr. Resnick made three diagnoses: antisocial personality disorder, alcohol abuse, and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder of childhood.
Dr. Resnick disagreed with the conclusion that defendant suffered from intermittent explosive disorder. Instead, Dr. Resnick believed that defendant suffered from antisocial personality disorder. Dr. Resnick explained that there is a specific statement under the criteria for intermittent explosive disorder in the DSM IV manual that says that if the violence can be explained by another disease, such as antisocial personality, then the diagnosis of intermittent explosive disorder may not be made. “It's [intermittent explosive disorder] a weaker diagnosis. It's only if someone does not have others, or antisocial personality.”
Dr. Resnick explained to the court that with intermittent explosive disorder, the outbursts are out of proportion to the stimulation. Continual physical fights are much more characteristic of antisocial personality disorder, and not characteristic of intermittent explosive disorder. Because defendant had numerous examples of controlled aggression, he met the category of antisocial personality disorder, rather than intermittent explosive disorder.
Dr. Resnick arrived at his diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder by evaluating defendant against the criteria in the DSM IV. Dr. Resnick testified that the evidence went beyond that recommended by the manual necessary to make the diagnosis. For example, Dr. Resnick related specific evidence of defendant's antisocial personality. This included defendant's conduct disorder as a child, which was evidenced by his “initiation of physical fights, being physically cruel to people, vandalism, shoplifting, running away from home, truancy, bullying, use of a weapon (knife), and deliberate destruction of property.” Further evidence of antisocial personality included defendant's adult unlawful behavior, impulsivity, aggressiveness, indicated by his approximately one hundred physical fights, reckless driving, and lack of remorse, as indicated by rationalizing his behavior and by his mother saying that he had no remorse after getting into physical fights.
In addition, Dr. Resnick testified that the defendant's mother told him that several times she heard defendant on the phone with his ex-wife, Ms. Filiaggi, and, one time, after concluding the call, he said, “I'm going to kill her one of these days.” Dr. Resnick noted the vengeance of defendant when he said to Ms. Filiaggi before he shot her, “This will teach you * * * to fuck with me.” Dr. Resnick stated that it was his belief that this showed that defendant had a rational motive rather than a psychotic motive.
Dr. Resnick noted that defendant had admitted to Dr. Pagano that while he was feeling suicidal before the act, he thought about taking out others with whom he had grievances and “had done him wrong.” That included judges, in an earlier case, and police officers with whom he had trouble in the past. Dr. Resnick noted that on the day of the murder, although defendant had one gun available to him, before leaving for Ms. Filiaggi's home he insisted on taking a second gun with him. Dr. Resnick opined that this did not mesh with the suicide theory.
Dr. Resnick testified that there was no evidence that defendant was confused or suffering from delusions or hallucinations that suggested to him that killing Ms. Filiaggi was the right thing to do. At the time of the killing, his activities were goal-directed and effective. He parked his car not in front of Ms. Filiaggi's house, but around the corner to keep from being seen. He went to the back door because there was a light by the front door. He chased Ms. Filiaggi into the neighbor's house, suggesting that he was pursuing her, which is goal-directed rather than impulsive behavior. As mentioned above, defendant told the neighbor to stay in the other bedroom and close the door. Again, this demonstrates defendant's ability to control the situation and to control anger.
Dr. Resnick noted that when defendant drove to his father-in-law's home after shooting Ms. Filiaggi, it showed premeditation, rather than impulsivity, because he actually drove a distance for that purpose. Further, his steps taken after the murders also suggested that defendant knew he was committing illegal and wrongful acts. Dr. Resnick pointed to the acts of avoiding police, switching license plates with stolen ones, renting a car at an airport, registering in a hotel under a false name, and keeping his calls to his parents' home short because he believed their phone was tapped.
Dr. Resnick found the defendant to be an above average, intelligent man. He testified that defendant had already spent time in jail for past crimes, knew he was violating a restraining order, lied to obtain a 9 mm gun, and volunteered to Dr. Resnick that he knew right from wrong.
Defense counsel pressed Dr. Resnick again about the antisocial personality disorder issue. Defense counsel noted that defendant had set and met goals such as graduating from college with honors, marrying, and supporting his family. Defense counsel challenged that these behavior traits are inconsistent with a sociopathic personality. Dr. Resnick disagreed and noted that the fact that a person succeeds does not imply that he or she is not sociopathic. Dr. Resnick continued to disagree with the prior diagnoses of bipolar disorder and intermittent explosive disorder. Dr. Resnick completely disagreed with the defense proposition that if a person suffers from intermittent explosive disorder and bipolar disorder, he or she may not know right from wrong. In fact, Dr. Resnick interviewed defendant, and then after reviewing the medical reports of the defense experts, he went back and systematically asked specific, detailed questions of defendant, his parents, and his girlfriend regarding issues like bipolar disorder, depression, attention deficit disorder, and explored the criteria for those conditions. Dr. Resnick also testified that the diagnostic criteria for attention deficit disorder do not include aggressive violence.
There was testimony by the defense experts that defendant had a chemical imbalance in his brain. Specifically, some of the defense experts testified that defendant possessed low seratonin levels. Seratonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain that functions as a behavioral inhibitor. One defense expert testified that if seratonin is low and people have impulsive aggressive problems, it would stand to reason, that if you enhance their seratonin activity, it should make them less impulsive and aggressive. However, Dr. Resnick testified that whether it was impulsive or premeditated, defendant could still know the wrongfulness of his conduct, whatever the diagnosis (bipolar, intermittent explosive, or antisocial personality disorder). In fact, as the court of appeals noted, all of the defense experts conceded that a person with the mental conditions that they identified in defendant could commit a premeditated murder with the knowledge that it was wrong.
Under R.C. 2929.04(B)(3), defendant was required to prove that “at the time of committing the offense, the offender, because of a mental disease or defect, lacked substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law.”
All of the defense experts conceded, as the court of appeals noted, that a person with the mental conditions that they identified in defendant could commit a premeditated murder with the knowledge that it was wrong. In addition, we agree with the court of appeals that the claims that defendant had successfully completed college, served in the military, maintained employment, and cared for his children contradict the claim that he had a mental disease or defect so severe that it rendered him unable to control himself or unable to conform his conduct to the law. Accordingly, we give this factor slight weight under R.C. 2929.04(B)(3).
Considering the mitigating factors set forth above, we find that the aggravating circumstances outweigh, beyond a reasonable doubt, the factors in mitigation of the death sentence. As a part of the appropriateness determination, we must compare this case to other cases reviewed by this court containing the course-of-conduct specification to determine if the death sentence in this case is disproportionate.
In State v. Allard (1996), 75 Ohio St.3d 482, 501-502, 663 N.E.2d 1277, 1293-1294, the defendant was convicted of killing his ex-wife and one of his children. Allard presented evidence that he was raised in foster homes and was sexually abused as a child. Allard was remorseful and there was evidence he would adapt well in prison. Like defendant, he also presented evidence that he suffered from bipolar disorder. The court affirmed the death sentence.
In State v. Awkal (1996), 76 Ohio St.3d 324, 338-339, 667 N.E.2d 960, 972-973, the defendant killed his wife and brother-in-law. There was mitigating evidence that Awkal was raised in a poor background and did not finish school. Awkal's father was physically abusive. Awkal was gainfully employed, had no prior criminal history, and expressed remorse for the killing. Further, Awkal was suffering from psychological disorders. The court affirmed the death sentence.
In State v. Sowell, 39 Ohio St.3d at 336-337, 530 N.E.2d at 1309-1310, the defendant killed one person and attempted to kill a second. Sowell presented mitigating evidence that the killing was the result of provocation and that he was intoxicated when it occurred. The court affirmed the death sentence.
State v. Claytor (1991), 61 Ohio St.3d 234, 245-246, 574 N.E.2d 472, 481-482, involved the killing of two hospital guards. Claytor had no criminal convictions. The compelling factor in that case was the existence of the R.C. 2929.04(B)(3) factor, that Claytor, because of a mental disease or defect, lacked the substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law. The court reversed Claytor's death sentence.
This case is more similar in facts to Allard, Awkal, and Sowell. The mental disorders present in this case are not the severe mental defects found in Claytor. As such, we find that the death sentence in this case is not disproportionate when compared to similar cases.
For the reasons stated herein, we affirm defendant's conviction for aggravated murder and his sentence of death. We also affirm his convictions and sentences for felonious assault and domestic violence in Lorain Common Pleas case No. 93CR044726. However, we reverse the judgment of the trial court in case No. 94CR044866 and the verdicts and/or the sentences imposed for attempted aggravated murder, aggravated burglary, and kidnapping, and remand the cause to the three-judge panel for final resolution consistent with our opinion, supra, in defendant's fourth proposition of law.
Judgment affirmed in part, reversed in part and cause remanded.
MOYER, C.J., DOUGLAS, RESNICK and FRANCIS E. SWEENEY, Sr., JJ., concur. PFEIFER, J., concurs in judgment only. COOK, J., concurs in part and dissents in part.
Filiaggi v. Bagley, 445 F.3d 851 (6th Cir. 2006). (Habeas)
Background: Following affirmance on direct appeal of petitioner's state court conviction for aggravated murder and death sentence, 86 Ohio St.3d 230, 714 N.E.2d 867, he filed petition for writ of habeas corpus. The United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Solomon Oliver, Jr., J., denied petition. Petitioner appealed.
Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Alice M. Batchelder, Circuit Judge, held that: (1) waiver of a jury trial was not rendered unknowing, involuntary, or unintelligent by fact that petitioner was accidentally shocked with stun belt and was on medication as a result, and (2) petitioner failed to establish that he was incompetent to stand trial. Affirmed. Cole, Circuit Judge, filed dissenting opinion.
ALICE M. BATCHELDER, Circuit Judge.
Petitioner James J. Filiaggi, an Ohio death-row prisoner, appeals a district court order denying his petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The district court granted a certificate of appealability (“COA”) on two claims. In his first claim, Filiaggi argues that his jury waiver was invalid because he was incompetent at the time it was made and because the trial court did not engage him in an adequate colloquy. Second, Filiaggi argues that the trial court should have found him incompetent during his trial. Because we conclude that the Ohio Supreme Court reasonably interpreted the facts of the case and reasonably applied clearly established federal law, we AFFIRM the district court's denial of Filiaggi's petition for a writ of habeas corpus.
The story of Filiaggi's crime, which is not relevant to his petition, is set forth in the Ohio Supreme Court's opinion, State v. Filiaggi, 86 Ohio St.3d 230, 714 N.E.2d 867, 870-72 (1999). Our account begins with Filiaggi's first appearance in court.
On the first day of Filiaggi's trial, the stun belt used to restrain him as he was being transported to court misfired, resulting in what Filiaggi refers to as his “electrocution.” Inasmuch as Filiaggi remains among the living, we will refer to the incident as an electrical shock. Afterward, Filiaggi was visibly shaken, his back was burned, and he suffered muscle spasms. The jail physician gave him ten milligrams of valium to ease his pain and to relax his muscles. Because of this incident, the court delayed the start of his trial until the afternoon. During the afternoon session, Filiaggi waived his right to a jury trial and elected instead to be tried to a three-judge panel. The next day, at the behest of defense counsel, the trial court ordered an evaluation of Filiaggi's competence to stand trial. Dr. Thomas Haglund examined Filiaggi that afternoon. The court held a competency hearing the following day, and Dr. Haglund testified, albeit it somewhat hesitantly, that Filiaggi understood the proceedings against him, and was able to consult with his counsel and to assist them in preparing his defense. The court therefore held that Filiaggi was competent to stand trial. Filiaggi's counsel disagreed and requested reevaluation. The court refused the request and the trial proceeded. The panel eventually found Filiaggi guilty and sentenced him to death.
After procedurally exhausting his direct appeal and post-conviction claims in the State of Ohio, Filiaggi filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court. The petition was denied. Filiaggi v. State, 528 U.S. 923, 120 S.Ct. 287, 145 L.Ed.2d 240 (1999). In January 2001, Filiaggi filed this petition in the district court for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, asserting ten constitutional violations. The district court denied the writ but granted a COA on Filiaggi's first two claims: whether he had knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently waived his right to a jury trial and whether he had been competent at the time of his trial. Filiaggi did not attempt to expand the COA in this court, and he appeals only the two claims for which the district court granted a certificate.
* * *
II. Jury Waiver
Filiaggi argues that his waiver of a jury trial was not knowing, voluntary or intelligent. Specifically, he asserts that, due to the electrical shock, he was not competent at the time of the waiver. He also asserts that his attorneys did not inform him that the waiver would make certain errors, such as evidentiary errors, essentially unreviewable on appeal. Finally, he argues that the trial court did not engage him in a sufficient colloquy.
Because the right to a jury trial is fundamental, Duncan v. Louisiana, 391 U.S. 145, 154, 88 S.Ct. 1444, 20 L.Ed.2d 491 (1968), Filiaggi's waiver of that right-to be valid-must have been knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily made. Edwards v. Arizona, 451 U.S. 477, 482, 101 S.Ct. 1880, 68 L.Ed.2d 378 (1981). The clearly established Supreme Court precedent at the time that Filiaggi waived his right to a jury trial, as well as at the time that the Ohio Supreme Court held that his waiver was valid, required only that the waiver be consented to by the government and sanctioned by the court, and that it *855 reflect the “express and intelligent consent of the defendant.” Patton v. United States, 281 U.S. 276, 312, 50 S.Ct. 253, 74 L.Ed. 854 (1930). As the Court explained a decade later:
The Patton decision left no room for doubt that a determination of guilt by a court after waiver of jury trial could not be set aside and a new trial ordered except upon a plain showing that such waiver was not freely and intelligently made. If the result of the adjudicatory process is not to be set at naught, it is not asking too much that the burden of showing essential unfairness be sustained by him who claims such injustice and seeks to have the result set aside, and that it be sustained not as a matter of speculation but as a demonstrable reality.
Adams v. United States ex rel. McCann, 317 U.S. 269, 281, 63 S.Ct. 236, 87 L.Ed. 268 (1942). Filiaggi therefore has the burden of demonstrating that he did not expressly and intelligently consent to waive a jury trial and that the Ohio Supreme Court's judgment to the contrary is either an unreasonable application of clearly established Supreme Court precedent or contrary to that precedent, or resulted from an unreasonable interpretation of the evidence presented to the state courts.
The Ohio Supreme Court held in State v. Filiaggi, 86 Ohio St.3d 230, 714 N.E.2d 867 (1999), that Filiaggi's claims that his waiver was not valid were meritless. The court first held that there was no requirement that a trial court “interrogate a defendant in order to determine whether he or she is fully apprised of the right to a jury trial;” that the trial court's failure to make inquiry of Filiaggi as to whether he understood the presumption of correctness that attached to the findings of the three-judge panel was therefore not error; and that the trial court's reading aloud of the written waiver and ensuring that it reflected Filiaggi's desire, was all that was required. Id. at 875. The court went on to hold that:
The record supports defendant's claim that he was shocked by the stun belt; however, the record does not indicate the voltage level. The record also indicates that the trial judge stated: “The defendant is shaken, and he may be on Valium.” The court took a recess directly after this incident for the remainder of the morning, and the court then reconvened at 1:30 p.m. Immediately upon reconvening, the parties addressed the subject of the waivers and made opening statements. Nothing indicates that defendant was unable to make a decision concerning the jury waiver. Defendant was represented by three attorneys, one of whom was a physician, and they never indicated that defendant would not be able to waive his right to a jury. Further, while defense counsel requested a mistrial and additional evaluations of defendant during the course of the trial alleging incompetence, they never asked the court to revisit the jury waiver issue. The record does not support defendant's claim that his waiver was not knowing, intelligent, and voluntary. Therefore, we overrule this proposition of law. Id. Filiaggi makes three arguments to the contrary.
Filiaggi first argues that the electrical shock left him too disoriented to make a valid waiver of his right to a trial by jury. He cites two items in evidence: the trial court's observation that he appeared shaken and had taken Valium following the stun belt incident, and his own affidavit, made nearly a year after the stun-belt incident, which states that he was “severely disoriented” at the time of the waiver. The affidavit also states, “Had I been conscious of what I was doing at the time, I would have wanted further clarification from the Court of the consequences of my jury waiver.” The record, however, supports the court's findings, and Filiaggi has not rebutted them by clear and convincing evidence.
Filiaggi next argues that his waiver was not intelligent and voluntary because his counsel failed to discuss with him the appellate consequences of waiving a jury trial. Specifically, he points to an affidavit of attorney James Burge, in which Burge stated that he did not explain to Filiaggi that “certain errors which might be deemed prejudicial by an appellate court if they occurred before a jury would be deemed harmless when they occur before a judge or a panel of three judges.” Burge also stated that, to the best of his knowledge, none of Filiaggi's other attorneys had explained this point to Filiaggi.
We are aware of no Supreme Court precedent-and Filiaggi points to none-that conditions the validity of a jury waiver upon a defendant's understanding of the appellate process. Furthermore, Filiaggi has produced no evidence to suggest that he did not understand the basic workings of a jury trial. He does not allege that he was unaware of the substantive and procedural difference between a bench trial and jury trial when he gave his waiver. Furthermore, the evidence that he points tohis own affidavit and the affidavit of his attorney, James Burge-prove only that Filiaggi was unaware of the harmless error doctrine. Because evidentiary errors affected by the doctrine are, by definition, harmless, Filiaggi's lack of familiarity with the doctrine does not affect the validity of his waiver.
Finally, Filiaggi argues that the trial court did not engage him in a sufficient colloquy during the waiver proceeding. We have held, under the less-deferential pre-AEDPA standard, that “[t]here is no constitutional requirement that a court conduct an on the record colloquy with the defendant prior to the jury trial waiver.” United States v. Martin, 704 F.2d 267, 274 (6th Cir.1983). In the case at hand, the trial court engaged in the following colloquy with Filiaggi:
Court: And you waive your constitutional right to a jury trial?
Court: I have the same entry, “I, James J. Filiaggi, defendant in the above captioned cause, hereby voluntarily waive and relinquish my right to a trial by jury and would elect to be tried by a Judge of the Court in which said cause may be pending. I fully understand that under the laws of this State I have a Constitutional right to a trial by jury.” And your signature appears there. Is that your signature?
Defendant: Yes, sir.
Court: Is it your desire to have the aggravated murder tried by three judges, Judge Kosmas [sic] Glavas and Judge Frank Horvath and myself, and it will require three judges to render a verdict in this matter and that is the one count. Is this your desire?
Filiaggi points to no Supreme Court precedent-clearly established at the time the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that his waiver was valid or, for that matter, today-requiring any colloquy, much less more explicit colloquy than was conducted here. Filiaggi argues only that he was unaware of the consequences of his waiver on appeal; he does not claim that he did not understand that he was giving up the right to be tried by a jury.
The Ohio Supreme Court concluded that Filiaggi's waiver of his right to trial by jury was knowing, voluntary and intelligent. Filiaggi has failed to demonstrate that the court's judgment is contrary to or an unreasonable application of Supreme Court precedent that was clearly established*857 at the time that judgment was entered, or that the Ohio Supreme Court's judgment was based on an unreasonable interpretation of the evidence presented in the state court proceedings. Accordingly, we affirm the district court's denial of habeas relief on this ground.
Having concluded that the State did not err in finding Filiaggi's jury waiver constitutionally sufficient, we now turn to the question of whether Filiaggi was competent to stand trial. Filiaggi argues that continued medical and psychological trauma from the stun belt shock required the trial court to conduct multiple evaluations of his competency.
Dr. Haglund, a clinical psychologist, evaluated Filiaggi's competence on the day following the stun belt incident. Filiaggi and Dr. Haglund discussed the stun belt incident, Filiaggi's incarceration, his court proceedings and his treatment for mental disorders. During that interview, Filiaggi was “mentally alert” and “oriented.” Filiaggi, 714 N.E.2d at 873. In addition, Dr. Haglund testified that Filiaggi was able to understand the nature and object of the proceedings against him, to consult with his lawyers and to assist in preparing and presenting his defense. As a result, the trial court concluded that Filiaggi was competent to stand trial.
Although Filiaggi's counsel challenged his competence a number of other times during the trial, they presented no additional information regarding his behavior until they filed a motion for a new trial. Filiaggi, 714 N.E.2d at 874-75. In an affidavit filed with that motion, a psychiatrist who examined Filiaggi four days after the stun-belt incident stated that it was his “unequivocal opinion” that Filiaggi was incapable of participating in his own defense “for at least two days” following his the shock. The psychiatrist described Filiaggi as “aggressive, confused, disoriented, and often nonresponsive to simple verbal questions ....” Filiaggi also submitted affidavits of two of his three attorneys stating that he was “foaming at the mouth” and often in “an agitated, catatonic stupor.” The trial court gave little weight to the submissions and noted that at the time of his jury waiver, Filiaggi “was functioning with all of his faculties and with the blessing of all three of his lawyers.” Order Denying Motion for a New Trial, January 17, 1996, at 2. Noting that defense counsel had repeatedly claimed that Filiaggi was incompetent to stand trial but had never brought to the court any evidence to support those claims, the court reviewed the evidence and found that Filiaggi was malingering.
During [the second day of the trial] the State represented that the defendant attended the trial the day before, was functioning normally, and had his breakfast. The state argued that there was no representation from the defense that the defendant was not able to understand the conversations he had with Mr. Burge regarding coming to court or voluntarily waiving his absence. The State argued on the record that the defendant was able to visit with and confer with his minister, and that the defendant was functioning normally until it was time to come to court. The State related that the defendant ate at the appropriate time, and at 10:00 p.m., the night before requested an attorney call and engaged in a very lengthy conversation with his lawyer. Again, the defense did not refute these claims ....
The court took testimony from a deputy that was guarding the defendant during the noon recess. The deputy informed the court that the defendant was doing stretching exercises, seemed to be fine, wasn't shaking, was in control of himself, and was conversing in a normal tone with his lawyers.
The State of Ohio informed the panel at other occasions during the trial that the defendant was observed by corrections officers to normally partake in meals, showering, conversations with other inmates, conversations with other corrections officers, and request calls to, and converse with his attorney. Again these representations went unrefuted. The defendant needed a wheelchair at no time other than coming to court and being in court.
The Ohio Supreme Court, reviewing Filiaggi's claim as a matter of state law, noted Ohio's standard:
An unqualified suggestion of defendant's incompetency to stand trial by defense counsel during trial, without additional objective indications such as, but not limited to, supplemental medical reports, defendant's conduct at trial or specific reference to defendant's irrational behavior or the like does not meet the “good cause shown” standard of R.C. 2945.37. Filiaggi, 714 N.E.2d at 874 (quoting State v. Chapin, 67 Ohio St.2d 437, 424 N.E.2d 317, 318 (1981)). The court went on to conclude that the trial court had considered the totality of the evidence in determining that no new evaluation or hearing on competency was required, and that the trial court's conclusion was not “unreasonable, arbitrary, or unconscionable.” Id. at 875.
The due-process right to a fair trial is violated by a court's failure to hold a proper competency hearing where there is substantial evidence that a defendant is incompetent. Pate v. Robinson, 383 U.S. 375, 385-86, 86 S.Ct. 836, 15 L.Ed.2d 815 (1966). To be adjudged competent, a defendant must have “sufficient present ability to consult with his lawyer with a reasonable degree of rational understanding” and “a rational as well as factual understanding of the proceedings against him.” Dusky v. U.S., 362 U.S. 402, 80 S.Ct. 788, 4 L.Ed.2d 824 (1960) (per curiam). Finally, as we noted long ago in Williams v. Bordenkircher, 696 F.2d 464, 466 (6th Cir.1983), “the [ Pate ] Court did not prescribe a general standard for determining whether the trial court should resort to evidentiary proceedings.” We stated the test as requiring us to determine “whether a reasonable judge, situated as was the trial court judge whose failure to conduct an evidentiary hearing is being reviewed, should have experienced doubt with respect to competency to stand trial.” Id. at 467.
A determination of competence is a factual finding, to which deference must be paid. Thompson v. Keohane, 516 U.S. 99, 110-11, 116 S.Ct. 457, 133 L.Ed.2d 383 (1995). “[E]vidence of a defendant's irrational behavior, his demeanor at trial, and any prior medical opinion on competence to stand trial are all relevant in determining whether further inquiry is required, but ... even one of these factors standing alone may, in some circumstances, be sufficient.” Drope v. Missouri, 420 U.S. 162, 180, 95 S.Ct. 896, 43 L.Ed.2d 103 (1975). “[R]egardless of whether we would reach a different conclusion were we reviewing the case de novo, the findings of the state court must be upheld unless there is clear and convincing evidence to the contrary.” Clark v. O'Dea, 257 F.3d 498, 506 (6th Cir.2001).
After carefully reviewing the record and the applicable law, we conclude that the Ohio Supreme Court's finding that Filiaggi was competent during his trial, although the result of an analysis of Ohio law rather than a constitutional due process claim, does not result in a judgment that is either contrary to or an unreasonable application of Supreme Court precedent clearly established at the time. The judgment does not unreasonably determine the facts in evidence, and Filiaggi has not rebutted the factual findings by clear and convincing evidence. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 2254(d)(2), (e)(1).
The trial court clearly considered the factors set out in Drope when it refused to grant Filiaggi an additional competency hearing and, later, a new trial. Although the evidence before the court was mixed, evidence in favor of finding Filiaggi incompetent came solely from Filiaggi's attorneys. Testimony from persons having custody of Filiaggi indicated that he was competent. Furthermore, Dr. Haglund's testimony regarding Filiaggi's mental state was sufficient to satisfy the requirements enumerated in Dusky. The Ohio Supreme Court considered-albeit not explicitly-the Drope factors as well as the standard for competence set out in Dusky, and concluded that Filiaggi had not carried his burden of demonstrating that he was not competent or that he was entitled to additional evaluations or hearings. We cannot say that a reasonable judge, considering all of the evidence that was before the trial court here relative to Filiaggi's claims of incompetence, “should have experienced doubt with respect to competency to stand trial,” Bordenkircher, 696 F.2d at 467, and we therefore must affirm the district court's denial of habeas relief on this issue.
For the foregoing reasons, we AFFIRM the judgment of the district court denying the petition for a writ of habeas corpus.