COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The brutal killing of four people, including an 8-year-old child, justified the death sentence for an Ohio man and outweighed evidence presented on his behalf including a variety of mental health diagnoses, a divided Ohio Supreme Court ruled Thursday.
In 2017, Arron Lawson killed his adult cousin, her son, her mother and her stepfather, after the cousin broke off an affair with Lawson, according to court documents. A three-judge panel sentenced Lawson to death in 2019.
At different times, Lawson, 27, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, depression, and PTSD, and did not receive adequate treatment for those conditions, Justice Sharon Kennedy wrote for the 5-2 majority. His lawyers also argued he was abused as a child. But the facts of the quadruple killing justify a death sentence, Kennedy concluded.
In January, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine signed a bill into law banning the execution of the severely mentally ill, including killers diagnosed with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder or delusional disorder at the time of their crimes.
Justice Michael Donnelly “reluctantly concurred” with upholding Lawson's death sentence. But he noted that Lawson has the ability to appeal under the new mental illness law.