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Ohio Man Who Sexually Abused 6-Month Old Infant Rejected Mercy Plea by Board

Steven Smith committed a kind of crime that was described by the Ohio Parole Board as ‘among the worst of the worst’. Smith, now 46, sexually abused a 6-month old girl named Autumn Carter in 1998. Carter was the daughter of Smith’s then girlfriend, Kaysha Frye.

Smith was sentenced to death by lethal injection and was scheduled for execution on May 1st. Smith’s lawyers filed for a mercy plea to the Ohio Parole Board last week, arguing that Smith’s crime was not eligible for capital punishment. They cited the state law that says death penalty was for crimes where there was a clear intention to kill the victim. The defendant’s lawyers argued, Smith only intended to rape the child, not to kill her and the death was only a horrible accident that resulted from the first crime. They further argued that Steven Smith, who was known to have problems with alcohol consumption and consumed 12 beers every night on average, was ‘too drunk’ to realize that his assault was killing the baby.

The Ohio Parole Board rejected the argument and the defendant’s plea for mercy. According to them, the ‘ferociousness’ of the crime in itself was enough an intention to kill the infant. According to trial evidence, the sexual assault on Autumn Carter lasted for about 30 minutes, while expert testimonies on the case for Smith said that he [Smith] must have killed the baby by suffocations within five to six minutes of the attack by lying on top of the child.

The board further argued on the earlier argument by the defense lawyers, as stated, “it stretches credulity to think that Smith had no intention to kill Autumn when he assaulted her in a manner that made the death a virtual certainty”.

The Ohio Parole Board also did not buy the defense’s arguments for sparing Smith says the nature of the crime he committed was far heavier than all his arguments, including the defense’s citing of Smith’s turbulent childhood to blame for his behavior.

In a further statement, the board said, ‘Smith took the life of an innocent 6-month old infant while using the baby to sexually gratify himself. It is hard to fathom a crime more repulsive or reprehensible in character. It is clearly among the worst of worst’.

The crime took place on 29 September 1998, in Kaysha Frye’s Mansfield apartment. At 3 in the morning, Frye was awakened when she saw a naked Smith putting down the baby beside her. Frye panicked upon noticing that the baby was not breathing and that was when she called for help. Smith was arrested 11 hours later, and recorded a 0.123 blood alcohol content upon inspection. Prosecutors argue that the crime was made as an act of revenge when Smith was denied sexual intercourse by the child’s mother on the night the crime happened. This was vehemently denied by the defense.

The Ohio Parole Board has already pushed their recommendation for no mercy to Ohio governor, John Kasich. The decision now lies in the hands of the governor. If execution pushes through, Smith would be the 51st person given capital punishment since Ohio brought back the death penalty law.

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