CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - A Hamilton County judge has handed down the death penalty to a man convicted of a murder in 1997.
Rayshawn Johnson beat his neighbor, Shanon Marks, to death with a baseball bat. Johnson beat Marks in the bathroom of her home, then went into another room and went through her purse, removing $50. He then returned to the bathroom and killed her.
Johnson has spent the last 14 years on death row after originally being sentenced to death for the crime. He was granted a new sentencing phase after an appeals court said his attorneys didn't fully investigate his abusive past.
Judge Ralph Winkler decided to go with the jury's recommendation and sentence Johnson to the death penalty.
"The aggravating circumstances far outweigh the mitigating factors in this case," said Winkler. "Rayshawn Johnson did not have to kill Shanon Marks. He could have called for help, he could have helped her himself, but after walking away to another room, he seized the opportunity to finish her off."
Johnson showed now emotion when Winkler announced his decision.
Johnson was originally scheduled to be sentenced last month, but Judge Winkler said he needed more time to read the transcript from the first trial.
Winkler set Johnson's execution date for April 10. That date is likely to be delayed due to the lengthy appeals process. Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said the appeals process could move quicker, though, because the appeals court will only have to consider the sentence and not the verdict, as well.
Deters said Marks' family is destroyed at her death at a level he's never seen before in any murder case.
"It's a horrible, tragic obscenity that was committed against this family," said Deters.
Abby Glenn, the mother of Johnson's son, said he has changed.
"He is a good person. He has changed," said Glenn. "Even back then, he was a good person. He just had some demons in him."
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