Death-row Howland woman asks Supreme Court to reconsider case - News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Death-row Howland woman asks Supreme Court to reconsider case

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Donna Roberts Donna Roberts

A Howland woman sentenced to death row is once again asking the state's highest court to reconsider her case. 

A filing with the Ohio Supreme Court asks the court to reopen the appeals case of 73-year-old Donna Roberts. 

Roberts was convicted in a Trumbull County court for the 2001 murder of her husband. 

The filing entered in court on December 12th is Roberts' fourth appeal through the Supreme Court. 

In June, the Supreme Court refused to reopen the death penalty case against Roberts saying that Roberts' failed to prove there was anything new to come to light, as opposed to rehearing the same information presented in Roberts' numerous other trials. 

According to prosecutors, Roberts plotted with another man, Nathaniel Jackson to kill Robert Fingerhut in Howland Township.

Both were sentenced to death for scheming to kill Fingerhut so Roberts could collect more than $500,000 in life insurance proceeds.

Roberts is scheduled to be executed on August 12, 2020.

According to court records, Roberts was having an affair with Jackson before he was sent to prison for a separate offense.

Investigators say the two communicated while Jackson was in prison.

When Jackson was released on December 9, 2001, Roberts was waiting to pick him up.

Two days later, Robert Fingerhut was found dead on the kitchen floor of his home. He had been shot several times.

In addition to letters and phone records gathered as evidence, investigators say Roberts bought Jackson a mask and gloves to wear while committing the crime, even allowing him into the home where the murder occurred.

Roberts was convicted of aggravated murder with death penalty specifications, aggravated robbery, and aggravated burglary. 

The Court first sent Robert's case back to the trial court after learning that the judge had allowed the prosecutor's office to participate in drafting the judge's sentencing opinion.

The court returned Roberts' case to the trial court for a second time in 2013 after concluding that the trial court hadn't considered potentially mitigating information Roberts gave at her first re-sentencing hearing.

The Supreme Court ordered the trial court to consider the entire record when deciding again whether the aggravating circumstances outweighed the mitigating factors beyond a reasonable doubt.

A new judge conducted the re-sentencing because the judge who originally heard Roberts' case had died.

The new judge determined that death was the appropriate penalty in the case.

In her appeal, Roberts maintained that the new judge couldn't properly consider all the evidence in the case because he wasn't present for any of her trial and didn't hear her statement firsthand.

In its latest ruling, the Supreme Court found that the trial court judge's decision was proper because he reviewed a written transcript of the case.

The Ohio Supreme Court has already refused to reconsider it's earlier decision to uphold Nathaniel Jackson's sentence, which is scheduled to be carried out on July 15, 2020.

Roberts is the only woman on Ohio's Death Row.

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