Governor grants clemency for first time

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Gov. Bob Taft granted clemency Thursday to a man who claimed blood evidence was withheld from jurors at his murder trial, a source said. It marked the first time the governor has spared the life of a condemned inmate.
The governor granted clemency to Jerome Campbell late Thursday morning, a source familiar with the decision told The Associated Press. The source spoke on condition of anonymity.
The governor's office declined comment, pending an afternoon news conference.
Campbell is the first death row inmate to receive clemency in 12 years. Taft has turned down nine requests for clemency since he took office in 1999. Eight of the inmates have been executed.
Taft followed the recommendation of the Ohio Parole Board, which ruled 6-2 on May 2.
WLWT television station in Cincinnati was with Campbell's mother and niece when they received a telephone call from the Ohio Public Defender's office telling them Campbell's life had been spared.
Family members were elated by the news and jumped up and down and hugged.
Campbell, 42, was scheduled to be executed on Friday. He had been convicted of aggravated murder for stabbing John Henry Turner, 78, at the man's Cincinnati apartment in 1988.
Ohio Public Defender David Bodiker referred to Turner in the clemency application as a bootlegger who sold liquor out of his home. Bodiker was explaining why Campbell's fingerprints were on a rum bottle in the apartment.
Defense lawyers argued that Campbell should be retried because a DNA test he requested from the state showed that blood on gym shoes introduced as trial evidence was his blood, not Turner's.
Campbell, who received his results in September 2002, was the first inmate to take advantage of a new law that allows death-row inmates to have DNA testing at the state's expense.
Prosecutors said the DNA had no bearing on the verdict because a prisoner interviewed by police said Campbell was wearing work boots, not gym shoes, at the time of the slaying.
The parole board said it had no reason to believe that Campbell was innocent, but that jurors might have spared his life had they received information that was revealed later. Campbell also was convicted of aggravated burglary.
The state's attorneys told Kubicki that the evidence the defense says merits a new trial was insufficient to overcome the jury's guilty verdict.
Tim Prichard, an assistant Ohio attorney general, told the judge that Campbell's former girlfriend, Estella Roe, testified that Campbell told her he killed Turner and asked her to provide an alibi.
Roe also testified at the trial that Campbell had gotten his blood on his gym shoes when she cut him during a fight months before the Turner slaying, Prichard told the judge.
Messages seeking comment were left with the Hamilton County prosecutor and the public defender's office.
In 1991, then-Gov. Richard Celeste, two days before he left office, commuted the sentences of seven inmates to life in prison.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)