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Appeal for Donna Roberts Resumes - only woman on Ohio’s Death Row

Staff report from The Vindicator WARREN The complicated appeals history of Donna Roberts of Howland, 75, the only woman on Ohio’s death row, has resumed with a filing this week in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court asking for a new trial, a new sentencing hearing or for her conviction to be erased. Roberts and Nathaniel Jackson were both convicted in the 2001 murder of Roberts’ husband, Robert Fingerhut, in their Howland home. Roberts helped plan the murder in a series of letters and phone calls while Jackson was in prison on an unrelated case, and Jackson carried out the murder after being released from prison, prosecutors said. Roberts filed an amended petition in 2015 arguing the jury and grand jury pools in her case were underrepresented by black people. Roberts is white. Jackson is black. The petition also argued her attorneys were ineffective during her trial. The reason these arguments to Judge Ronald Rice of common pleas court are being renewed now is that Roberts filed other appeals that took several years to resolve and put this petition on hold. Chris Becker, assistant county prosecutor, filed a rebuttal Friday, saying the Ohio Supreme Court affirmed her death sentence and conviction in 2017, and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review that decision in 2018. Becker asked the judge to dismiss the petition without a hearing because Roberts failed to provide sufficient grounds for it to be considered.

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