Inmate who strangled cellmate sentenced to death

MANSFIELD, Ohio (AP) - An inmate convicted of strangling his cellmate smiled and flashed two fingers in a V as he was sentenced to die.
Christopher Newton, 33, got the maximum sentence on Monday for aggravated murder because Jason Brewer had no chance to escape him in the cell, Richland County Common Pleas Judge James Henson said.
County Prosecutor James Mayer Jr. shook his head in disbelief at Newton's reaction.
"I've been a lawyer for 26 years and I've never seen anyone
laugh at the death penalty before," he said. "You'd think he'd take the procedure more seriously."
Brewer, 27, was serving a three- to 10-year sentence for
attempted burglary when Newton beat and strangled him in November 2001 at Mansfield Correctional Institution. They shared a cell in the isolation section.
Newton was serving an eight-year sentence for having a weapon despite being barred by law, attempted burglary and attempted escape.
Defense attorneys had sought a sentence of 25 years to life in the killing. They argued that the death sentence wouldn't have applied if Brewer had been killed outside of prison.
But the three-judge panel said the tougher penalty is needed to protect inmates.
"It was a sadistic and calculated killing," Henson said. "He delighted in Brewer's pleading for his life. He bragged about it and celebrated the anniversary" of the death.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)