Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Impending Execution of Charles Lorraine

Charles Lorraine sits on death row awaiting execution by the people of Ohio on 18 January. It is unlikely he will survive the day.

I frequently summarize the factual details of an impending execution by quoting from an appellate decision. For this case, however, I rely on the recommendation report prepared by Ohio's Adult Parole Authority. I have excluded some of the administrative sections entirely, and I have replaced substantial blocks of text with ellipses. I have changed each instance of "Appellant" or "the Appellant" with "Lorraine".

You can view the report in its unaltered format here, or you can read my redacted version that follows immediately.

On November 29, 2011, an interview was conducted by eight (8) Board Members with [Charles] Lorraine via video conference from the Ohio State Penitentiary. Lorraine shared with the Board that he was sorry for what he had done, takes responsibility for his crime and that he is guilty of the charges against him. He went on to state that he does not know why he killed the Montgomerys and shared that he had known them since he was 12 years of age. When he was younger, Lorraine stated, he used to assist them by cutting their grass and shoveling the snow in their driveway. When Lorraine became a teenager, he started to help the Montgomerys inside of their home and described his relationship with them as friends. Lorraine stated that 25 years later he still has no idea why he killed this couple, commented that they would always give him money when he asked for it, and that he did not have to kill them to get money.

Lorraine also shared that while he was under the influence of drugs and alcohol when he committed the offense, he does not blame the fact that he was under the influence of drugs for his actions. He also shared that he acted completely alone when he killed the Montgomerys, and that there are many aspects to the crime that he cannot recall. He does recall going to the home of Bill Medve, where he stole gloves and a butcher knife. Bill Medve then drove him to the Montgomery home because Lorraine led him to believe that he was going to the home to get some money.

When Lorraine arrived at the home, Doris Montgomery waved from her bed which was located in the living room for him to come inside. When Lorraine was inside the home, he said that he needed to go upstairs and look for a necklace that he had left in their home. It was at this time that Raymond Montgomery followed Lorraine upstairs and assisted Lorraine in looking for the necklace. Lorraine then stated he walked behind Raymond Montgomery and stabbed him multiple times until he fell down on the floor. After this, Lorraine stated he went back downstairs, and Doris Montgomery asked him what had fallen while he was upstairs and then asked for her husband. It was at this time that Lorraine walked behind Doris Montgomery's bed and stabbed her in the throat. He then took a pillow and put it on top of her face. After this, he went outside and saw that Bill Medve was gone so he ran home.

Lorraine also admits to going to the Montgomery home on two occasions on the night of the instant offense. He did not recall when he stole the money and readily admitted that he was fully aware that Doris Montgomery kept her money beside the bed. He knew this because he had stolen from her before.

Additionally, Lorraine admitted that he had originally stolen the gloves and the knife prior to the crime because he knew that he was going to kill the Montgomerys when he went to their home. He also admitted that he had victimized many elderly victims in the past.

Lorraine also stated that he and his friend, Perry Postlewaite, went to the home of another elderly victim and stole her car. Lorraine is not clear if this burglary occurred before or after he had killed the Montgomerys. He does recall going back to the Montgomery home with Perry Postlewaite to take additional items, such as guns and jewelry. Together, they attempted to pawn the jewelry. He sold the guns to his uncle. Lastly, he recalls eating shrimp with his friend Perry.

During his interview, Lorraine stated to the Board that he deserves life without parole because he "is not a killer." He stated that he is asking for clemency and that he would take the execution if he had to. He also pointed out that he felt that he had a fair trial and that his attorneys did what they could to save his life. Lorraine pointed out that he was willing to plead guilty and that he never tried to deny the crime.

In closing, Lorraine stated that he has turned his life over to God and that his pastor and a woman he calls "Grandma Pat" are the most positive people he has in his life. He also indicated that his sister who has cancer is able to visit him once a month. He made it clear again that he was sorry for what he had done and apologized to the niece of the victim, as well as to his own family.

Defense counsel presented video testimony of Attorney Ken Murray. Attorney Murray was one of three individuals that represented Lorraine at his trial in 1986. He stated that Lorraine's case was the first capital case he had ever tried, and that he has always been struck with many negative memories surrounding this trial. Prior to this case, Attorney Murray had only represented clients in two murder trials, neither of which was a capital case. Additionally, he never had any formal training in the area of capital crimes. ... In closing he shared that not a day goes by that he does not think of this case and is overwhelmed with guilt for the job that he failed to do. He blames himself and feels that if he had more knowledge, resources, and time that he could have made a very strong case for Lorraine's life to be spared.

Reverend James Donnan was presented next and appeared in person before the Board. ... Pastor Donnan believes that Lorraine's religious conversion is authentic and asked the Board to show mercy and grant him clemency so he can spend the rest of his life within the general population of the prison system. He shared that Lorraine is very sorry for what he did and is unable to explain his actions. However he is prepared to meet God face- to- face if the scheduled execution goes forward.

Ms. Pat Livingston also appeared before the Board in person to offer testimony in support of Lorraine. She has been visiting him for the last five years and sees him approximately every six weeks when Pastor Donnan visits. She shared that she has seen many positive changes that Lorraine has made in his life.

Video testimony by Kathy Brewer, Lorraine's sister, was presented to the Board. She indicated that she was unable to appear in person because she was supposed to have surgery. Ms. Brewer stated that she was the oldest sister and that she lived with her grandparents until she reached 11 years of age. Ms. Brewer said that her grandparents were very good to her and would often "pay" her parents money not to beat her. ... Ms. Brewer described her mother as an evil person who would beat her on a regular basis. Additionally, her mother would play bingo five to six nights per week. She could never recall a time where her dad was not drinking. Her father became addicted to pain pills and he would have Lorraine and his brothers do whatever it took to get him more pills. ...

Richard Lorraine, brother to Lorraine, also made a videotaped statement that was presented to the Board. He indicated that their parents never said that they loved them. His mom played bingo all the time, and his dad was addicted to pain killers and would allow him to skip school if he got him pain medication. ...

Richard also stated that their parents did not care if they committed crimes as long as they gave the parents a portion of the money they obtained. He also recalls that his brother abused drugs morning, noon and night and would prostitute himself out to get money. In closing, Richard Lorraine shared with the Board that he spent a lot of time with his brother and that executing his brother would have a great impact on him.

Dr. Jeffrey Madden who is a neuropsychologist with Ohio State University evaluated Lorraine with respect to the presence of brain injuries. ... Dr. Madden concluded that Lorraine has damage to his pre-frontal lobe and meets criteria to be diagnosed with an organic brain disorder. Additionally, he has a well-established history of borderline intellectual functioning and is not mentally retarded.

Dr. Madden discussed incidents in Lorraine's past that could have cause the acquired brain injury. Dr. Madden stated that at two years of age, Lorraine fell out of the family car and hit his head as his mother turned the comer. The car was going about five to ten miles per hour at the time. When Lorraine was between the ages of six to eight years of age, he fell out of a tree which was approximately 10 to 12 feet high and hit his head. It is not clear ifhe lost consciousness. Finally, Lorraine's brother Rick reported that about one year prior to his incarceration, Lorraine was badly beaten by several men at an apartment, causing his eyes to be blackened and leaving his face bloodied and swollen. Lorraine also self reported that he took many beatings about his head and face from his mother and father. ...

Clinical and Forensic Psychologist Dr. Aracelis Rivera appeared in front of the Board to discuss the presence of risk factors in Lorraine's upbringing that may help explain his later criminal and violent actions. She met personally with Lorraine in prison and also reviewed third party information. ... In conclusion to her presentation, Dr. Rivera pointed out that Lorraine displayed 22 of the 25 risk factors that exist, and that he has limitations in all five of the domains listed above. The larger the number of risk factors that one has equates to the greater the propensity toward violence. Charles Lorraine was exploited by those who were to protect him, he was treated as an object, and he had no protective factors. ...

Dennis Watkins, Trumbull County Prosecutor, presented arguments in opposition to clemency. Additionally, he prosecuted Lorraine at his trial in 1986. This was also the second case he prosecuted where he had the advantage of having an interrogation that was videotaped.

Prosecutor Watkins stated that the evidence in this case is overwhelming, and it all points to the fact that Lorraine acted alone when he murdered the victims. He shared that death penalty cases are reviewed by the courts more than any other types of cases. This case was proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and 12 jurors properly found Lorraine guilty. Prosecutor Watkins believes that this was a well-tried case and that Lorraine was represented by three qualified attorneys who were from the Trumbull County Public Defender's Office. ...

Prosecutor Watkins also stated that 90% of what the Board heard by the defense was already known at the time this case was tried. Charles Lorraine had 12 witnesses that testified at the mitigation phase of his trial, and all of the information that was heard today was presented to the jury. The only new information is that which was self reported by Lorraine himself, when he recently claimed that he was sexually abused by a teacher and his school principal. ...

The Prosecutor described Lorraine as a psychopathic killer who has no conscience and is a con artist from beginning to end. Out of the six children that Lorraine family raised, he is the only one that turned out to be evil. Prosecutor Watkins does not believe that Lorraine's life was as bad as he describes. He came from a father who worked hard and was employed for 17 years with Trumbull County Metropolitan Housing Authority. His dad also coached baseball. The prosecutor also stated that Lorraine was no longer welcomed to visit with his grandmother, Catherine Lovash, because he had stolen her social security money. Additionally, Lorraine's pregnant wife kicked him out of the home prior to the murders because he stole money from her. The money he stole was designated to be used to pay for the family's utilities and purchase food.

Prosecutor Watkins encouraged the Board not to believe Lorraine when he stated during his recent interview that he shot up on drugs for the first time on the day he killed the victims, Rather, the Board was asked to refer back to the testimony of Lorraine's own brother, stating that he had shot up many times before and used drugs morning, noon, and night. ...

Lastly, Prosecutor Watkins summarized the evidence by stating that armed with a butcher knife and gloves, Lorraine appeared at the Montgomery home and lured 76-year old Raymond Montgomery upstairs under the ruse of a lost necklace. He then stabbed him five times with a butcher knife that was 10 inches long. Next, he carne downstairs and stabbed bedridden Doris Montgomery nine times as she lay totally helpless in her bed. Doris Montgomery was 80 years old and weighed 85 pounds.

Following the murders, Lorraine was in the partying mood, bragged to several people that he killed two old people, went drinking at a bar, sold his bloody pants for $20, went back to the Montgomery home to take more items, pawned jewelry, and sold the guns he had taken from the home. He also broke into the home of another elderly victim with the codefendant, stealing her car. After all of this, he had breakfast with his friend Perry Postlethwaite. ...

Ms. Linda Couch, the niece of the victims, appeared before the Board. She indicated that her life was changed forever when she walked into the home of her aunt and uncle, finding them dead. She knew the moment she walked into the home and saw her aunt on the bed with a pillow over her face that something was drastically wrong. The home was ransacked, and her aunt's feet were hanging over the side of the bed. Ms. Couch was familiar with the home in that she would go there three times a week to assist her aunt in getting a bath.

Ms. Couch believes that Lorraine knew exactly what he was doing, and it hurts her to know that it has taken so long for his sentence to be carried out. When questioned by the police as to who would harm her aunt and uncle, Ms. Couch immediately told them Charles Lorraine because he had stolen money from her aunt in the past. Ms. Couch stated that she knows the victims suffered and that she wants closure to this chapter in her life.

The Board also received a letter from Alison Aleman, the victim's granddaughter. In the letter, she spoke of the many good memories she had of her grandparents. Ms. Aleman is retired from the California Attorney General's Office and spent 26 of her 30 years there prosecuting murder cases. She stated that she well knows the toll that capital cases have on the prosecutors, victims, and surviving family members. She and her sister plan on coming to Ohio to attend Lorraine's execution.

The Board also received a letter from John Montgomery, the brother of Raymond Montgomery. He shared that Raymond Montgomery was a Corporal in the United States Army in the 69th Tank Battalion and was awarded three Bronze Stars in World War II. He also pointed out that Raymond Montgomery still has a brother and two sisters that are living, are in their nineties, and are "waiting for justice" in this case.

The Board reviewed and considered all information submitted both in support of and in opposition to clemency. After an exhaustive review of all materials, exhibits, and arguments presented by both parties, and extensive deliberation, the Board reached a unanimous decision to make an unfavorable recommendation to the Governor regarding Lorraine's request for Life Without Parole, after concluding the following:

• There has never been a question of Lorraine's guilt in these offenses. While the prosecutor's statements during parts of the trial may have constituted misconduct, it is hard to imagine that the outcome of the trial would have been different had those statements not been made. All reviewing courts have concluded that Charles Lorraine received a fair trial. It further appears that significant mitigation was presented.

• While evidence supports that Lorraine suffered from a difficult childhood which increased his likelihood of violence, he had five siblings who were able to overcome this difficult upbringing and lead relatively crime free lives.

• It is obvious from the facts of this case that Lorraine targeted this elderly couple because they were vulnerable. He gained their trust and then used this same trust as a means to enter their home, only to slaughter them and steal their valuables. He shared with the Board during his interview that he knew in advance that he was going to kill the victims. Unfortunately, to this day, he cannot explain why he committed these violent acts.

• Lorraine had a history of crimes against the elderly in both the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems, and was awaiting sentencing on other burglary and robbery offenses when he murdered the victims in this case.

• Testimony presented at trial and during the post conviction and appellate processes demonstrate that Lorraine does not suffer from mental retardation. Additional testimony presented at the clemency hearing as to his dysfunctional childhood and brain injury, do not outweigh the aggravating factors in this case. This was a brutal slaying of two vulnerable victims in their own home. A sentence short of the jury's finding of death and the court's imposed death sentence would demean the seriousness of this offense.

The Ohio Parole Board with eight (8) members participating, by a vote of eight (8) to zero (0) recommends to the Honorable John R. Kasich, Governor of the State of Ohio, that executive clemency be DENIED in the case of Charles Lorraine AI94-013.

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With respect to the propriety of executing Charles Lorraine, I stand mute.