130th Ohio General Assembly
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(125th General Assembly)
(Substitute House Bill Number 184)



AN ACT
To amend sections 2929.03 and 2929.06 of the Revised Code to permit the imposition of a sentence of life imprisonment without parole, life imprisonment with parole eligibility after serving 25 full years of imprisonment, or life imprisonment with parole eligibility after serving 30 full years of imprisonment when an offender is convicted of or pleads guilty to aggravated murder and is not charged with or convicted of an aggravating circumstance and to clarify and revise the procedures that govern the resentencing of a person sentenced to death whose sentence is set aside, nullified, or vacated.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Ohio:

SECTION 1. That sections 2929.03 and 2929.06 of the Revised Code be amended to read as follows:

Sec. 2929.03.  (A) If the indictment or count in the indictment charging aggravated murder does not contain one or more specifications of aggravating circumstances listed in division (A) of section 2929.04 of the Revised Code, then, following a verdict of guilty of the charge of aggravated murder, the trial court shall impose sentence on the offender as follows:

(1) Except as provided in division (A)(2) of this section, the trial court shall impose a sentence of life imprisonment with parole eligibility after serving twenty years of imprisonment one of the following sentences on the offender:

(a) Life imprisonment without parole;

(b) Life imprisonment with parole eligibility after serving twenty years of imprisonment;

(c) Life imprisonment with parole eligibility after serving twenty-five full years of imprisonment;

(d) Life imprisonment with parole eligibility after serving thirty full years of imprisonment.

(2) If the offender also is convicted of or pleads guilty to a sexual motivation specification and a sexually violent predator specification that are included in the indictment, count in the indictment, or information that charged the aggravated murder, the trial court shall impose upon the offender a sentence of life imprisonment without parole that shall be served pursuant to section 2971.03 of the Revised Code.

(B) If the indictment or count in the indictment charging aggravated murder contains one or more specifications of aggravating circumstances listed in division (A) of section 2929.04 of the Revised Code, the verdict shall separately state whether the accused is found guilty or not guilty of the principal charge and, if guilty of the principal charge, whether the offender was eighteen years of age or older at the time of the commission of the offense, if the matter of age was raised by the offender pursuant to section 2929.023 of the Revised Code, and whether the offender is guilty or not guilty of each specification. The jury shall be instructed on its duties in this regard. The instruction to the jury shall include an instruction that a specification shall be proved beyond a reasonable doubt in order to support a guilty verdict on the specification, but the instruction shall not mention the penalty that may be the consequence of a guilty or not guilty verdict on any charge or specification.

(C)(1) If the indictment or count in the indictment charging aggravated murder contains one or more specifications of aggravating circumstances listed in division (A) of section 2929.04 of the Revised Code, then, following a verdict of guilty of the charge but not guilty of each of the specifications, and regardless of whether the offender raised the matter of age pursuant to section 2929.023 of the Revised Code, the trial court shall impose sentence on the offender as follows:

(a) Except as provided in division (C)(1)(b) of this section, the trial court shall impose a sentence of life imprisonment with parole eligibility after serving twenty years of imprisonment one of the following sentences on the offender:

(i) Life imprisonment without parole;

(ii) Life imprisonment with parole eligibility after serving twenty years of imprisonment;

(iii) Life imprisonment with parole eligibility after serving twenty-five full years of imprisonment;

(iv) Life imprisonment with parole eligibility after serving thirty full years of imprisonment.

(b) If the offender also is convicted of or pleads guilty to a sexual motivation specification and a sexually violent predator specification that are included in the indictment, count in the indictment, or information that charged the aggravated murder, the trial court shall impose upon the offender a sentence of life imprisonment without parole that shall be served pursuant to section 2971.03 of the Revised Code.

(2)(a) If the indictment or count in the indictment contains one or more specifications of aggravating circumstances listed in division (A) of section 2929.04 of the Revised Code and if the offender is found guilty of both the charge and one or more of the specifications, the penalty to be imposed on the offender shall be one of the following:

(i) Except as provided in division (C)(2)(a)(ii) of this section, the penalty to be imposed on the offender shall be death, life imprisonment without parole, life imprisonment with parole eligibility after serving twenty-five full years of imprisonment, or life imprisonment with parole eligibility after serving thirty full years of imprisonment.

(ii) If the offender also is convicted of or pleads guilty to a sexual motivation specification and a sexually violent predator specification that are included in the indictment, count in the indictment, or information that charged the aggravated murder, the penalty to be imposed on the offender shall be death or life imprisonment without parole that shall be served pursuant to section 2971.03 of the Revised Code.

(b) A penalty imposed pursuant to division (C)(2)(a)(i) or (ii) of this section shall be determined pursuant to divisions (D) and (E) of this section and shall be determined by one of the following:

(i) By the panel of three judges that tried the offender upon the offender's waiver of the right to trial by jury;

(ii) By the trial jury and the trial judge, if the offender was tried by jury.

(D)(1) Death may not be imposed as a penalty for aggravated murder if the offender raised the matter of age at trial pursuant to section 2929.023 of the Revised Code and was not found at trial to have been eighteen years of age or older at the time of the commission of the offense. When death may be imposed as a penalty for aggravated murder, the court shall proceed under this division. When death may be imposed as a penalty, the court, upon the request of the defendant, shall require a pre-sentence investigation to be made and, upon the request of the defendant, shall require a mental examination to be made, and shall require reports of the investigation and of any mental examination submitted to the court, pursuant to section 2947.06 of the Revised Code. No statement made or information provided by a defendant in a mental examination or proceeding conducted pursuant to this division shall be disclosed to any person, except as provided in this division, or be used in evidence against the defendant on the issue of guilt in any retrial. A pre-sentence investigation or mental examination shall not be made except upon request of the defendant. Copies of any reports prepared under this division shall be furnished to the court, to the trial jury if the offender was tried by a jury, to the prosecutor, and to the offender or the offender's counsel for use under this division. The court, and the trial jury if the offender was tried by a jury, shall consider any report prepared pursuant to this division and furnished to it and any evidence raised at trial that is relevant to the aggravating circumstances the offender was found guilty of committing or to any factors in mitigation of the imposition of the sentence of death, shall hear testimony and other evidence that is relevant to the nature and circumstances of the aggravating circumstances the offender was found guilty of committing, the mitigating factors set forth in division (B) of section 2929.04 of the Revised Code, and any other factors in mitigation of the imposition of the sentence of death, and shall hear the statement, if any, of the offender, and the arguments, if any, of counsel for the defense and prosecution, that are relevant to the penalty that should be imposed on the offender. The defendant shall be given great latitude in the presentation of evidence of the mitigating factors set forth in division (B) of section 2929.04 of the Revised Code and of any other factors in mitigation of the imposition of the sentence of death. If the offender chooses to make a statement, the offender is subject to cross-examination only if the offender consents to make the statement under oath or affirmation.

The defendant shall have the burden of going forward with the evidence of any factors in mitigation of the imposition of the sentence of death. The prosecution shall have the burden of proving, by proof beyond a reasonable doubt, that the aggravating circumstances the defendant was found guilty of committing are sufficient to outweigh the factors in mitigation of the imposition of the sentence of death.

(2) Upon consideration of the relevant evidence raised at trial, the testimony, other evidence, statement of the offender, arguments of counsel, and, if applicable, the reports submitted pursuant to division (D)(1) of this section, the trial jury, if the offender was tried by a jury, shall determine whether the aggravating circumstances the offender was found guilty of committing are sufficient to outweigh the mitigating factors present in the case. If the trial jury unanimously finds, by proof beyond a reasonable doubt, that the aggravating circumstances the offender was found guilty of committing outweigh the mitigating factors, the trial jury shall recommend to the court that the sentence of death be imposed on the offender. Absent such a finding, the jury shall recommend that the offender be sentenced to one of the following:

(a) Except as provided in division (D)(2)(b) of this section, to life imprisonment without parole, life imprisonment with parole eligibility after serving twenty-five full years of imprisonment, or life imprisonment with parole eligibility after serving thirty full years of imprisonment;

(b) If the offender also is convicted of or pleads guilty to a sexual motivation specification and a sexually violent predator specification that are included in the indictment, count in the indictment, or information that charged the aggravated murder, to life imprisonment without parole.

If the trial jury recommends that the offender be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole, life imprisonment with parole eligibility after serving twenty-five full years of imprisonment, or life imprisonment with parole eligibility after serving thirty full years of imprisonment, the court shall impose the sentence recommended by the jury upon the offender. If the sentence is a sentence of life imprisonment without parole imposed under division (D)(2)(b) of this section, the sentence shall be served pursuant to section 2971.03 of the Revised Code. If the trial jury recommends that the sentence of death be imposed upon the offender, the court shall proceed to impose sentence pursuant to division (D)(3) of this section.

(3) Upon consideration of the relevant evidence raised at trial, the testimony, other evidence, statement of the offender, arguments of counsel, and, if applicable, the reports submitted to the court pursuant to division (D)(1) of this section, if, after receiving pursuant to division (D)(2) of this section the trial jury's recommendation that the sentence of death be imposed, the court finds, by proof beyond a reasonable doubt, or if the panel of three judges unanimously finds, by proof beyond a reasonable doubt, that the aggravating circumstances the offender was found guilty of committing outweigh the mitigating factors, it shall impose sentence of death on the offender. Absent such a finding by the court or panel, the court or the panel shall impose one of the following sentences on the offender:

(a) Except as provided in division (D)(3)(b) of this section, one of the following:

(i) Life imprisonment without parole;

(ii) Life imprisonment with parole eligibility after serving twenty-five full years of imprisonment;

(iii) Life imprisonment with parole eligibility after serving thirty full years of imprisonment.

(b) If the offender also is convicted of or pleads guilty to a sexual motivation specification and a sexually violent predator specification that are included in the indictment, count in the indictment, or information that charged the aggravated murder, life imprisonment without parole that shall be served pursuant to section 2971.03 of the Revised Code.

(E) If the offender raised the matter of age at trial pursuant to section 2929.023 of the Revised Code, was convicted of aggravated murder and one or more specifications of an aggravating circumstance listed in division (A) of section 2929.04 of the Revised Code, and was not found at trial to have been eighteen years of age or older at the time of the commission of the offense, the court or the panel of three judges shall not impose a sentence of death on the offender. Instead, the court or panel shall impose one of the following sentences on the offender:

(1) Except as provided in division (E)(2) of this section, one of the following:

(a) Life imprisonment without parole;

(b) Life imprisonment with parole eligibility after serving twenty-five full years of imprisonment;

(c) Life imprisonment with parole eligibility after serving thirty full years of imprisonment.

(2) If the offender also is convicted of or pleads guilty to a sexual motivation specification and a sexually violent predator specification that are included in the indictment, count in the indictment, or information that charged the aggravated murder, life imprisonment without parole that shall be served pursuant to section 2971.03 of the Revised Code.

(F) The court or the panel of three judges, when it imposes sentence of death, shall state in a separate opinion its specific findings as to the existence of any of the mitigating factors set forth in division (B) of section 2929.04 of the Revised Code, the existence of any other mitigating factors, the aggravating circumstances the offender was found guilty of committing, and the reasons why the aggravating circumstances the offender was found guilty of committing were sufficient to outweigh the mitigating factors. The court or panel, when it imposes life imprisonment under division (D) of this section, shall state in a separate opinion its specific findings of which of the mitigating factors set forth in division (B) of section 2929.04 of the Revised Code it found to exist, what other mitigating factors it found to exist, what aggravating circumstances the offender was found guilty of committing, and why it could not find that these aggravating circumstances were sufficient to outweigh the mitigating factors. For cases in which a sentence of death is imposed for an offense committed before January 1, 1995, the court or panel shall file the opinion required to be prepared by this division with the clerk of the appropriate court of appeals and with the clerk of the supreme court within fifteen days after the court or panel imposes sentence. For cases in which a sentence of death is imposed for an offense committed on or after January 1, 1995, the court or panel shall file the opinion required to be prepared by this division with the clerk of the supreme court within fifteen days after the court or panel imposes sentence. The judgment in a case in which a sentencing hearing is held pursuant to this section is not final until the opinion is filed.

(G)(1) Whenever the court or a panel of three judges imposes a sentence of death for an offense committed before January 1, 1995, the clerk of the court in which the judgment is rendered shall deliver the entire record in the case to the appellate court.

(2) Whenever the court or a panel of three judges imposes a sentence of death for an offense committed on or after January 1, 1995, the clerk of the court in which the judgment is rendered shall deliver the entire record in the case to the supreme court.

Sec. 2929.06.  (A) If the a sentence of death that is imposed upon an offender is set aside, nullified, or vacated upon appeal because the court of appeals, in a case in which a sentence of death was imposed for an offense committed before January 1, 1995, or the supreme court, in cases in which the supreme court reviews the sentence upon appeal, could not affirm the sentence of death under the standards imposed by section 2929.05 of the Revised Code, is set aside, nullified, or vacated upon appeal for the sole reason that the statutory procedure for imposing the sentence of death that is set forth in sections 2929.03 and 2929.04 of the Revised Code is unconstitutional, or is set aside, nullified, or vacated pursuant to division (C) of section 2929.05 of the Revised Code, or is set aside, nullified, or vacated because a court has determined that the offender is mentally retarded under standards set forth in decisions of the supreme court of this state or the United States supreme court, the trial court that sentenced the offender shall conduct a hearing to resentence the offender. At the resentencing hearing, the court shall impose one of the following sentences upon the offender:

(1) Except as provided in division (A)(2) of this section, life imprisonment without parole, life imprisonment with parole eligibility after serving twenty-five full years of imprisonment, or life imprisonment with parole eligibility after serving thirty full years of imprisonment;

(2) If the sentence of death was imposed for an aggravated murder committed on or after January 1, 1997, and if the offender also was convicted of or pleaded guilty to a sexual motivation specification and a sexually violent predator specification that were included in the indictment, count in the indictment, or information that charged the aggravated murder, life imprisonment without parole that shall be served pursuant to upon the offender a sentence of life imprisonment that is determined as specified in this division. The sentences of life imprisonment that are available at the hearing, and from which the court shall impose sentence, shall be the same sentences of life imprisonment that were available under division (D) of section 2929.03 or under section 2909.24 of the Revised Code at the time the offender committed the offense for which the sentence of death was imposed. Nothing in this division regarding the resentencing of an offender shall affect the operation of section 2971.03 of the Revised Code.

(B) If the Whenever any court of this state or any federal court sets aside, nullifies, or vacates a sentence of death that is imposed upon an offender is vacated upon appeal because of error that occurred in the sentencing phase of the trial and if division (A) of this section does not apply, the trial court that sentenced the offender shall conduct a new hearing to resentence the offender. If the offender was tried by a jury, the trial court shall impanel a new jury for the hearing. If the offender was tried by a panel of three judges, that panel or, if necessary, a new panel of three judges shall conduct the hearing. At the hearing, the court shall follow the procedure set forth in division (D) of section 2929.03 of the Revised Code in determining whether to impose upon the offender a sentence of death, or a sentence of life imprisonment without parole, life imprisonment with parole eligibility after serving twenty-five full years of imprisonment, or life imprisonment with parole eligibility after serving thirty full years of imprisonment. If, pursuant to that procedure, the court determines that it will impose a sentence of life imprisonment, the sentences of life imprisonment that are available at the hearing, and from which the court shall impose sentence, shall be the same sentences of life imprisonment that were available under division (D) of section 2929.03 or under section 2909.24 of the Revised Code at the time the offender committed the offense for which the sentence of death was imposed.

(C) If the a sentence of life imprisonment without parole that is imposed upon an offender pursuant to section 2929.021 or 2929.03 of the Revised Code is set aside, nullified, or vacated upon appeal for the sole reason that the statutory procedure for imposing the sentence of life imprisonment without parole that is set forth in sections 2929.03 and 2929.04 of the Revised Code is unconstitutional, the trial court that sentenced the offender shall conduct a hearing to resentence the offender to life imprisonment with parole eligibility after serving twenty-five full years of imprisonment or to life imprisonment with parole eligibility after serving thirty full years of imprisonment.

(D) Nothing in this section limits or restricts the rights of the state to appeal any order setting aside, nullifying, or vacating a conviction or sentence of death, when an appeal of that nature otherwise would be available.

(E) This section, as amended by H.B. 184 of the 125th General Assembly, shall apply to all offenders who have been sentenced to death for an aggravated murder that was committed on or after October 19, 1981, or for terrorism that was committed on or after May 15, 2002. This section, as amended by H.B. 184 of the 125th general assembly, shall apply equally to all such offenders sentenced to death prior to, on, or after the effective date of that act, including offenders who, on the effective date of that act, are challenging their sentence of death and offenders whose sentence of death has been set aside, nullified, or vacated by any court of this state or any federal court but who, as of the effective date of that act, have not yet been resentenced.

SECTION 2. That existing sections 2929.03 and 2929.06 of the Revised Code are hereby repealed.

SECTION 3.  Section 2929.03 of the Revised Code is presented in this act as a composite of the section as amended by both Am. Sub. H.B. 180 and Am. Sub. S.B. 269 of the 121st General Assembly. The General Assembly, applying the principle stated in division (B) of section 1.52 of the Revised Code that amendments are to be harmonized if reasonably capable of simultaneous operation, finds that the composite is the resulting version of the section in effect prior to the effective date of the section as presented in this act.

SECTION 4. If any provision of this act, any provision of any section in this act, or the application of any such provision to any person or circumstances is held invalid, the invalidity does not affect other provisions or applications of other provisions of this act, other sections in this act, other applications of the provision in question, or related sections that can be given effect without the invalid provision or section, and to this end the provisions are severable.

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