Governor denies clemency to condemned inmate

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Gov. Bob Taft denied clemency Friday to a man convicted of murdering a 76-year-old Cleveland woman during a robbery 20 years ago.

Lewis Williams, 45, is scheduled to be executed Tuesday and would be the ninth inmate to be put to death since the state resumed executions in 1999 after 36 years.

Taft said he had no doubt about Williams' guilt or the appropriateness of his death sentence. The Ohio Parole Board unanimously recommended against clemency.

"There is no evidence of procedural irregularity or unfairness to Mr. Williams," Taft said in a news release. "I find that the aggravating circumstances and brutality of Mr. Williams' crime outweigh any mitigating factors he has presented."

Lewis was convicted of murdering Leoma Chmielewski, a neighbor of his cousin's, in her home on Jan. 20, 1983.

On June 5, Williams dropped a claim that his life should be spared because he is mentally retarded. The U.S. Supreme Court last year ruled that executing the mentally retarded was unconstitutional.

On June 17, the Ohio Supreme Court unanimously refused to delay Williams' execution. The court also declined to order the 8th Ohio District Court of Appeals to consider an argument that he received ineffective legal assistance during a previous appeal.

The state Supreme Court also is considering Ohio's appeal of a Cuyahoga County judge's order that Williams appear in her court on Monday -- the day before his execution -- to determine whether he is mentally retarded, and whether he should be allowed to fire his attorneys and dismiss his mental retardation claim.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)