Jury deliberating in Rayshawn Johnson re-sentencing

Rayshawn Johnson (Source: Ohio Department of Corrections)
Rayshawn Johnson (Source: Ohio Department of Corrections)

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The fate of Rayshawn Johnson is now the hands of a Hamilton County jury.

Deliberations will continue Wednesday after closing arguments were held Tuesday morning.

The defense argued Rayshawn Johnson is a different man.

"The 19-year-old brutally murdered Shanon Marks. There's no question, for money," defense attorney William Welsh said. "The 33-year-old hasn't been in trouble in 14 years is sober, is clean, he can help someone else."

On the other side, the prosecution questioned if Johnson had truly changed.

"It's amazing how many people who commit horrible acts and then have to face the consequences find Jesus," Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said.

The defense also argued Johnson's troubled childhood lead him to commit the crime.

"On that day he did go in there, he did get high, he did kill her, he did rob her," Welsh said. "That was the person that [his mother and grandmother] molded."

The prosecution countered by questioning whether even his addiction molded his behavior.

"If he is that whacked out from drugs and alcohol could he have even pulled this off the way he did?" assistant prosecutor Mark Piepmeier asked the jury.

Finally, the defense argued Johnson could spend the rest of his life, even in prison, making a positive difference.

"If he changes one person, and that one person doesn't go out and commit a crime, isn't it all worth it?" Welsh asked the jury.

The prosecution then questioned whether Johnson deserved another chance at life.

"His real intension was to get Shannon. That's what he wanted," argued Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters. "He wanted to kill her."

"Shanon Marks was everything that Rayshawn Johnson is not: responsible, hard working, loving, a great citizen, trusting, innocent," Deters went on to say. "Now she's dead because of his irresponsibility, laziness, cold-bloodedness and viciousness."

There are four sentencing options being considered by the jury:

  • Death
  • Life imprisonment without possibility of parole.
  • Life imprisonment without parole eligibility for 25 years
  • Life imprisonment without parole eligibility for 30 years.

The defense, however, has only asked the jury to consider life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

Regardless of what decision is reached, there must be unanimous support for that verdict.

In order to decide on a death sentence, Judge Ralph Winkler informed the jury that the State of Ohio must prove aggravating circumstances are sufficient to outweigh mitigating factors by proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

The defendant has no burden of proof.

Mitigating factors include any information or evidence about a defendant or the offence that weigh in favor of the defendant that would diminish the appropriateness of a death sentence. Such factors can include the history, character, and background of the defendant.

The judge informed the jury that the aggravated circumstances include the aggravated nature of the robbery and burglary committed in conjunction with the murder, however the aggravated murder itself is not an aggravating circumstance.

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