Former Lebanon Correctional Institution inmate faces death penalty

Former Lebanon Correctional Institution inmate faces death penalty
Jack Welninski, 34, was convicted Friday by a Warren County jury of the aggravated murder of his cellmate in April 2018. (Source: Warren County Prosecutor's Office)

WARREN COUNTY, Ohio (FOX19) - A Warren County jury convicted Jack Welninski of aggravated murder on Friday for killing his cellmate in April 2018.

Welninski, 34, was briefly cellmates with Kevin Nill, 40, of Piqua, while behind bars at Lebanon Correctional Institution.

The prosecutor’s office says Welninski strangled Nill to death, in part, because he believed he would be transferred to another prison.

There was no prior history between the two men and Welninski killed Nill a little over an hour after becoming cellmates.

Prosecutor David Fornshell says Wellninski confessed to Nill’s murder, calling the plan “premeditated” in an interview with law enforcement.

In addition to finding Wellninski guilty of aggravated murder, the jury also found him guilty of a capital specification for committing a murder while under detention at a state correctional institution.

Warren County Common Pleas Court Judge Donald Oda II also found Wellninski guilty of two separate specifications that were tried directly to the court instead of to the jury.

One was a capital specification of committing the offense of aggravated murder of Nill after having previously been convicted of the purposeful attempt to kill another.

The other was a separate non-capital specification of being a repeat violent offender.

Because of the findings of guilt on the two capital specifications, the same Warren County jury will proceed to the death penalty phase of the trial on Tuesday, March 10.

They will consider sentencing recommendations of death, life without parole, 30 years to life, or 25 years to life.

Wellninski is already serving 69 years in prison for the Dec. 18, 2015 attempted murder of Oregon, Ohio Police Department Officer Tim Stecker.

He is incarcerated at the Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown, Ohio.

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