Danny Lee Hill, on death row for 37 years, has execution date set in four years
In spite of objections from the NAACP and the Federal Public Defender's Office, the Ohio Supreme Court has set an execution for Danny Lee Hill nearly four years from now.
Hill, sentenced to death in 37 years ago for the murder of 12-year-old Warren Boy Scout Raymond Fife, is now scheduled to be executed on July 22, 2026.
The Justices granted a motion from Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins.
The court's order did not address Watkins' suggestion that since drugs used in lethal injections are not currently available in Ohio, the state considers execution other methods such as a firing squad or electrocution, as well as newer methods like nitrogen hypoxia.
Background – Caution: Some readers may find some details of the following court record account disturbing.
According to court records, on September 10, 1985, at approximately 5:15 p.m., Raymond Fife left home on his bicycle to visit a friend, Billy Simmons.
After learning that the twelve-year-old had not arrived at his friend's home by 5:50 p.m., Fife's family began searching for him.
Raymond Fife's father found his son more than four hours later in a wooded field behind the Valu-King supermarket on Palmyra road.
The child was naked and appeared to have been severely beaten and his face was burned. Raymond's underwear was found tied around his neck and appeared to have been lit on fire.
Raymond died in the hospital two days later.
The coroner, who ruled Raymond's death a homicide, testified during the trial that the victim had been choked and had a hemorrhage in his brain. The coroner also said that Fife sustained several burns, damage to his rectal-bladder area, and bite marks on his penis.
Through testimony from three Warren Western Reserve High School Students, the jury learned that Danny Lee Hill and Timothy Combs were in the area of the Valu-King and the bike trails on the evening Raymond Fife was assaulted. One of the students had also seen Fife riding his bike in the store parking lot.
A student who said he saw Combs on the trail also said he heard a child's scream. Another student says he saw Combs pulling up the zipper of his blue jeans.
Two days after Fife was found, Danny Lee Hill, who was 18 years old at the time, went to the Warren Police Station to inquire about a $5,000 reward that was being offered for information concerning the murder.
According to Police Sergeant Thomas Stewart, Hill told him that he had just seen some he knew riding Fife's bike. When Stewart asked Hill how he knew the bike belonged to Fife, Hill replied, "I know it is."
Sergeant Stewart testified that during their conversation, it became apparent that Hill knew a lot about the bike and the underwear that was found around Fife's neck.
On the following Monday, September 16, Hill went to the police station accompanied by his uncle, Warren Police Detective Morris Hill.
Police say after waiving his Miranda rights, Danny Lee Hill admitted on audio and video tape that he was present during the beating and sexual assault of Raymond Fife, but that Timothy Combs did everything to the victim.
Combs was eventually convicted of felonious sexual penetration, arson, rape, kidnapping, and aggravated murder.
Since Combs was 17 years old at the time of the crime, he was not eligible for the death penalty and is serving a life sentence. Combs died in prison in 2018.
Hill was convicted on the same charges, but since he was18-years-old at the time Fife was assaulted, he was sentenced to death.
Hill has filed several unsuccessful appeals, the most notable of which was a claim that he is mentally retarded and should not be subject to the death penalty.