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Darrell Wayne FERGUSON

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 


A.K.A.: "Gator"
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Robberies
Number of victims: 3
Date of murders: December 25-26, 2001
Date of arrest: December 28, 2001
Date of birth: January 30, 1978
Victims profile: Thomas King, 61 (disabled) / Arlie Fugate, 68, and his wife, Mae, 69
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Montgomery County, Ohio, USA
Status: Executed by lethal injection in Ohio on August 8, 2006
 
 

 
 
clemency report
 
 

 
 

Summary:

Following his conviction for Burglary, Ferguson served time in a drug treatment program and received a 2-day pass on December 21, 2001.

His murder spree began four days later on Christmas Day in Dayton when he attacked and killed a disabled relative, 61 year old Thomas King, with a kitchen knife. Ferguson stole two televisions and a radio that he sold to buy crack cocaine.

The next day, Ferguson broke into the home of an elderly couple who were his former neighbors, attacked them with a kitchen knife, then beat and stomped them to death.

Ferguson waived his right to a jury, pled guilty to all charges, and waived his right to presentation of any mitigating evidence. A court-appointed clinical psychologist then conducted an evaluation of the defendant and deemed him competent of standing trial.

Citations:

State v. Ferguson, 108 Ohio St.3d 451, 844 N.E.2d 806 (Ohio 2006). (Direct Appeal)

Final/Special Meal:

Three T-bone steaks cooked medium rare, two breaded chicken breasts with a side of ranch dressing, chocolate ice cream and Mountain Dew.

Final Words:

"Mom, Dad, I love you both. I love you a lot. I wish you all the best." Ferguson, who previously said he worshipped Satan, made a sign that some consider to be a symbol of the devil as he died. While he was on the lethal-injection table — with his left arm extended palm up — he extended his index and little fingers to make the sign and held that pose for several minutes before lapsing into unconsciousness.

ClarkProsecutor.org


Ohio Department of Reahabilitation and Correction

NAME: Darrell W. Ferguson
INMATE #: A456727
RACE: Caucasian
DOB: 01/30/78
CRIME: Aggravated Murder, Escape, Aggravated Burglary, Robbery, Aggravatyed Robbery, Tampering With Evidence
SENTENCE: Death
COUNTY: Montgomery County
Admission Date: 09/25/03

MEDIA ADVISORY - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 31, 2006 - Inmate Ferguson Execution

Media Instruction and Information Sheet

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC) Public Information Office will be accepting credentials/identification information from media outlets that are planning to cover the execution of inmate Darrell Ferguson, Montgomery County. This information must be faxed to the DRC Public Information Office no later than noon on Friday, July 14, 2006. The fax number is (614) 752-1171. The execution is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, July 26, 2006, at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio.

There are two forms of identification that need to be submitted (one picture ID) and a letter (on affiliate letterhead) from the news organization you represent. This letter should include your home address, as well as your work and home telephone numbers. A list will be generated from the information received and you will be cleared only after completing this process. You must have the same credentials with you at the site. If you are not pre-credentialed you will not gain access to the prison Media Center. The Media Center is a secure area that is being provided inside the prison. Non-credentialed media will be permitted to cover the event from the prison parking lot.

The Media Center for credentialed media will be activated at 4:30 p.m. the day prior to the execution. A media briefing will be held at 4:45 p.m. that day. The Media Center will reopen at 6:00 a.m. the day of the execution. There will be a briefing at 7:45 a.m. the day of the execution. All media must arrive at the Media Center by 8:30 a.m. in order to be allowed in the center. No persons will be permitted to enter or leave the center after 8:30 a.m. until the execution is carried out.

Media witnesses and pool reporters must report to the prison no later than 7:45 a.m. on the morning of the execution. The Media Center will close at 1:00 p.m. At that time any remaining media will be escorted out of the prison by the media teams.

There will be no access to other areas of the prison. Movement will be limited to and from the Media Center. For security purposes, photographs and taped video may not be taken outside of the Media Center. Television and radio crews will be able to bring their equipment into the center. Live remote shots must be done outside due to security at the institution.

Immediately following the execution, the official spokeswoman from DRC will make a formal announcement regarding the time of death. Following that statement the pool reporters and media witnesses will hold a briefing. A written transcript of the inmate’s final statement will be provided at the conclusion of the briefing. No further interviews with DRC staff will be conducted. No one will be permitted to leave the center until the briefings have been concluded.

Each affiliate will be permitted two persons in the Media Center. There will be reserved seating for major media outlets. There will be 48 telephone lines available in the Media Center, as well as a bank of pay phones for 800 numbers or calling card use located outside. A mult-box will be provided. Each media outlet should bring proper equipment. No microphones will be permitted on the briefing podium. DRC will supply media witnesses to the execution with paper, pens and pencils.

Per DRC’s media policy for the execution the Ohio Legislative Correspondents Association will select a print reporter. The Director of DRC will select a television pool reporter through a lottery system comprised of the four major news affiliates from the county of commitment. The radio station will be selected by the DRC Public Information Office from the county of commitment

This information is subject to change. For further information please contact the DRC Public Information Office at (614) 752-1150.


Darrell Wayne "Gator" Ferguson (January 30, 1978 - August 8, 2006) was executed by the state of Ohio. He was the youngest inmate put to death in Ohio since 1962. He spent 2 years and 10 months on death row and had waived all appeals after his 2003 conviction for three counts of aggravated murder.

On December 26, 2001, Ferguson murdered 61-year-old Thomas S. King, Sr. at King's home on the east side of Dayton. Ferguson broke into King's home, grabbed a knife from the kitchen, and stabbed King, who was disabled and used crutches, repeatedly in the chest. He then stole televisions and stereos from King's home and sold the items to buy crack cocaine.

The next day, Ferguson murdered 68-year-old Arlie Fugate and his wife, 69-year-old Mae Fugate. Ferguson broke into the Fugate home and stabbed the couple with a knife from their kitchen. Ferguson then proceeded to stomp on their bodies with steel-toed boots. He later wrote a handwritten letter in which he admitted that he intentionally and maliciously murdered the victims.

Ferguson committed the murders after getting a two-day pass from a drug treatment program he had been ordered to attend following a burglary conviction. The victims let Ferguson into their homes in Dayton because they knew him. Ferguson's mother had been married to King's brother, and Ferguson's family had once lived near the Fugates.

Although his attorneys maintained that IQ tests revealed Ferguson was borderline mentally retarded, Ohio courts found him competent to stand trial for three murders under the standards set forth by the United States Supreme Court in Atkins v. Virginia. He taunted his victims' families at the sentencing phase of his trial, saying he took satisfaction and pleasure in killing their loved ones. "I will never show any remorse, even on the day I die", he said.

As he lay on the execution table in Lucasville, Ferguson, who said he worshipped Satan, told his parents he loved them and extended the index and little fingers on his outstretched left hand in a gesture known to some as il cornuto or the sign of the devil. He held the sign until he lapsed into unconsciousness. He was pronounced dead at 10:21 a.m.


Remorseless killer executed at Lucasville

By Alan Johnson - Columbus Dispatch

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

LUCASVILLE, Ohio — Remorseless to the end, Darrell Ferguson was executed today for the Christmastime murders of three elderly, disabled Dayton residents in 2001. Ferguson, 28, died by injection at the 10:21 a.m. at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility near Lucasville.

He did not look at the victim's family, six of whom were observing from behind a glass wall. But he said to his parents, watching from an adjoining room, “Mom and dad, I love you both. I love you a lot. I wish you all the best.” His mother, Donna Davis, was crying and praying as she watched her son die. At one point she said, “I love you baby . . . you're in God's hands now.”

Ferguson, who previously said he worshipped Satan, made a sign that some consider to be a symbol of the devil as he died. While he was on the lethal-injection table — with his left arm extended palm up — he extended his index and little fingers to make the sign and held that pose for several minutes before lapsing into unconsciousness. Afterward, there was as little sympathy for Ferguson as he showed his victims, one of whom was on crutches, another had cancer, and a third was in a wheelchair.

Immediately after the execution, a family friend of one of the victims, Chris Purdue, said, "Goodnight. I hope he stays in hell forever." Ferguson, a long-time drug user and high-school wrestler — he now weighs 285 pounds — taunted his victims' families at the sentencing phase of his trial two years ago when he said he took satisfaction and pleasure in killing their loved ones. “I will never show any remorse, even on the day I die.” He didn't.

Ferguson was convicted for stabbing and stomping to death Thomas King, 61, on Christmas Day in 2001. The following day, he killed Arlie Fugate, 68, and his wife, Mae, 69. Robbery was the motive in all three murders, officials said. Ferguson used the money to buy drugs.

Seeking a speedy execution, Ferguson waived what would have been years of legal appeals to hasten his death. He was the fourth Ohioan executed this year and the 23rd since the state resumed capital punishment in 1999.


Ohio executes triple-murderer who asked for death

Reuters News

Aug 8, 2006

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Reuters) - The state of Ohio on Tuesday executed a triple murderer who stabbed and stomped his elderly victims and later begged his trial judge to be put to death. Darrell Ferguson, 28, was pronounced dead at 10:21 a.m. EDT (1421 GMT) following a lethal injection, said officials at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville. "Mom, Dad, I love you both. I love you a lot. I wish you all the best," Ferguson said in his final statement.

Ferguson's murder spree began on Christmas Day in 2001 in Dayton, Ohio, where he attacked a relative, Thomas King, 61, with a kitchen knife and stole two televisions and a radio that he sold to buy crack cocaine. The next day, Ferguson robbed and murdered an elderly couple who were his former neighbors.

Ferguson pleaded guilty and offered no evidence in his own defense, pleading with a judge: "I is asking you in my right state of mind, would you please find it in good will to give me the death penalty." A state-ordered mental examination declared him competent. "By his own words, Ferguson is a remorseless, sadistic and incorrigible killer," Ohio Supreme Court Justice Alice Resnick wrote in upholding the sentence.

For his last meal, Ferguson had three steaks, two chicken breasts, chocolate milk and a soft drink.

The execution was Ohio's fourth this year and the state's 23rd since 1999 when it resumed executions. It was the 1,038th execution in the United States since capital punishment was restored in 1976.


State executes man who said he enjoyed slayings

By JoAnne Viviano - Akron Beacon Journal

Associated Press - Tue, Aug. 08, 2006

LUCASVILLE, Ohio - A man who called Satan his lord and said he enjoyed killing three people was executed Tuesday, keeping his promise to show the family of his victims no remorse for stabbing and beating them and stomping on them with steel-toed boots.

Darrell Ferguson's mother said he made up the Satan worshipping and the claim that he took pleasure in the killings to ensure he was executed. "He didn't worship Satan. He used Satan to be put to death because he didn't want to spend the rest of his life in prison," said Donna Davis, who watched the execution by injection at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility. "He's in God's hands now, and Satan is running." During the execution, he made a fist and extended his index and pinky fingers, which some people view as a sign of the devil. When asked about the symbol, Davis said she doesn't know what it means.

Ferguson, 28, the youngest person put to death in Ohio since 1962, asked for the death penalty at sentencing and chose not to pursue appeals, which could have delayed his execution for years.

He was the second inmate executed using the state's new lethal injection protocol, adopted after an execution in May was delayed when prison staff struggled to find a useable vein on that inmate, who asked them to find another way to kill him. Prison staff gave Ferguson's veins more close examinations, and the guidelines called for two injection sites to be prepared and a new method of ensuring veins stay open.

Ferguson said nothing before he died to the witnesses for the victims. He taunted the victims' family at his sentencing in 2003, saying that if released from prison, he would pick up where he left off. "I will never show any remorse, even on the day I die," he said in court.

Ferguson's mother said he told her and other family members on Monday that he was sorry. "He wasn't going to say he was sorry to the victims' family because he was afraid that it would stop his death," Davis said.

He pleaded guilty to three counts of aggravated murder in the Christmas Day killing of Thomas King, 61, in 2001 and the deaths the next day of Arlie Fugate, 68, and his wife Mae, 69. King, was disabled and used crutches, Arlie Fugate had cancer and Mae Fugate took meals to wheelchair-bound neighbors. The victims let Ferguson into their homes in Dayton because they knew him. Ferguson's mother had been married to King's brother, and Ferguson's family had once lived near the Fugates. Ferguson committed the murders after getting a two-day pass Dec. 21, 2001, to leave a Cincinnati drug treatment program he had been ordered to attend following a burglary conviction.

Ferguson, who grew up in Dayton, frequently wandered the streets and spent nights in warehouses and alleys. He said at age 9 he began huffing - inhaling chemical vapors to achieve a feeling of euphoria. He started drinking at 15 and using crack cocaine at 18. Davis said her son was mentally ill. A defense psychiatrist who reviewed Ferguson's medical history reported to the trial court that he had been treated for several psychiatric disorders, including bipolar disorder. "Gov. Bob Taft ... had a mentally ill person put to death, murdered," Davis said.

Ferguson's trial attorney Victor Hodge said IQ tests showed Ferguson was borderline mentally retarded. But he refused to cooperate with further evaluations recommended by his attorneys, Hodge said. Kim Norris, spokeswoman for Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro, said Ferguson was found to be competent in evaluations ordered by the court. Ferguson did not ask Taft for clemency, which the governor said Monday he would not grant.

Ferguson, whose arms were tattooed, wore black-rimmed glasses and looked to the ceiling when he told his mother and father he loved them just before he was injected. He then turned toward the glass separating him from witnesses. Davis, who sat between Ferguson's father and a stepfather, held the men's hands. As he died, all three cried and Davis leaned toward the glass and sobbed. "No more chains, baby. No more handcuffs," she said. "It's done."

When the curtain covering the window to the death chamber was pulled closed, Ferguson's mother said, "Satan, you aren't as strong as you thought you were. All you did was make people suffer as you like to do. But you didn't get him, you didn't get him. He had the power to change." Six witnesses for the victims - five relatives and a friend of the King family - held hands and were quiet throughout the execution.

Ferguson was the fourth inmate executed in Ohio this year, the 23rd since the state resumed executions in 1999. Adremy Dennis, also 28, was about two months older than Ferguson when he was executed in 2004.


Ohio executes man who said he enjoyed slayings

By Jim Provance - Toledo Blade.com

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

LUCASVILLE - "I refute you, Satan,'' declared the mother of Darrell W. Ferguson as her 28-year-old son was put to death this morning for the brutal stabbing and stomping of three elderly Dayton residents five years ago. "Satan, you're not as strong as you thought you were,'' sobbed Donna Davis. "All you did was make people suffer like you like to do. But you didn't get him.''

Ferguson took advantage of a two-day pass from a Cincinnati drug abuse treatment program in 2001 to launch a murder and robbery spree to fuel his crack cocaine and chemical-huffing habit, sometimes leaving his victims alive and sometimes dead.

He brutally stabbed 61-year-old Thomas King Sr. in his Dayton home on Dec. 23, 2001, and stomped and kicked him with his steel-toed boots. A day later, he did the same to Arlie and Mae Fugate, aged 68 and 69. He left bloody impressions of his boot on the cheek of Mr. Fugate and on Mr. King's pants. DNA testing of his boots found probable blood matches for all three victims.

Ferguson confessed to the crimes with graphic detail after his arrest and personally requested the death penalty in letters to the judge and prosecutor. "(W)hat I done is done and if I could bring them back I wouldn't,'' his letter to the judge read. "I have no Remorse for what I did.''

Ferguson was Ohio's sixth volunteer, prematurely ending what could have been years of additional appeals to hasten his death. He refused to participate in his own clemency hearing, but could have stopped his execution at any time right up to the point that the execution drugs began to flow.

He taunted the families of his victims during his sentencing hearing and posted poems and essays about his crimes and his Satanic beliefs on his personal web site. He made no comment to members of the victims' families, but to his parents, he said, "Mom and Dad, I love you both. I love you a lot. I wish you all the best.''

After the execution, his mother denied that her son was a Satanist, saying he used that to accelerate his execution and avoid life in prison.


Killer's final words will be directed to his family

Prison officials don't expect repeat of vile outburst given by Satanist during trial for killing three people

By Tom Beyerlein - Dayton Daily News

August 8, 2006

LUCASVILLE — Condemned triple murderer Darrell Wayne "Gator" Ferguson of Dayton said if he gives a final statement on the execution table this morning, it will be directed at his family, a prison spokeswoman said Monday. That may mean Ferguson, a Satanist, isn't planning a repeat of the hateful diatribe he issued against his victims at his 2003 sentencing. Regardless of what he says, prison policy doesn't allow the warden to pull the microphone plug. "We can't restrict the content or duration of his statement," spokeswoman Andrea Dean said. "We can't interfere with his freedom of speech."

Eight people, including the sons of Ferguson's disabled and elderly victims, are to watch him die by lethal injection at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility. Ferguson's mother, Donna Davis; stepfather, Paul Yates; and natural father, Clarence Vela Sr., also are scheduled to be witnesses.

Late Monday, Ferguson, 28, gobbled a "special meal" of three T-bone steaks cooked medium rare, two breaded chicken breasts with a side of ranch dressing, chocolate ice cream and Mountain Dew. He enjoyed a contact visit with relatives, listened to radio and chatted with his executioners about life in Dayton.

Ferguson's family will donate his body to Wright State University for biological study, Dean said. Ohio Gov. Bob Taft declined to grant clemency Monday. The only thing that could stop the execution is if Ferguson changes his mind and decides to exercise his appeals, Dean said.

Ferguson pleaded guilty and asked for the death penalty in the Christmastime 2001 stabbings of Arlie and Mae Fugate and Thomas King Sr. in East Dayton. A drug addict, Ferguson was on Christmas leave from a halfway house and used robbery proceeds to buy intoxicants.


Execution set Tuesday for man who wants to die

By James Hannah - Cincinnati Post

Associated Press - Monday, August 7, 2006

DAYTON - Darrell Ferguson wants to die for his deeds. And he's done just about everything he can to make it happen. Ferguson stabbed to death and stomped with steel-toed boots on a man using crutches. And he killed an elderly couple the same way, snuffing out the life of a man weak with cancer and a woman who took meals to her wheelchair-bound neighbors. The 28-year-old Ferguson, a 230-pound former high school wrestler who says he worships Satan, admitted to the crimes time and time again, put up no defense and asked for the death penalty.

At his sentencing, he taunted the families of the victims, saying he enjoyed the killings, had no remorse, and, if released from prison, would pick up where he left off.

Ferguson, whose nickname is "Gator," is on death row and scheduled to be executed Tuesday. "If we are going to have the death penalty in Ohio, there is no other case and no defendant who deserves the ultimate penalty more," said Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr.

Defense attorney Victor Hodge believes Ferguson's behavior may be a ploy to avoid spending the rest of his life in prison by committing suicide. "He just pulled the right strings to make sure the government does it," Hodge said.

Ferguson was convicted of aggravated murder in the Christmas Day, 2001, death of Thomas King and the deaths of Arlie Fugate, 68, and his wife, Mae, 69, the next day. The victims, all of Dayton, knew Ferguson and let him into their homes.

Ferguson grew up in Dayton. He frequently wandered the streets and spent nights in warehouses and alleys. Ferguson said at age 9 he began huffing - inhaling chemical vapors to achieve a feeling of euphoria. He started drinking at 15 and using crack cocaine at 18. Ferguson left school in the 10th grade, did some street boxing to earn money, and, at one point, worked for a vinyl-siding company.

On Dec. 21, 2001, Ferguson got a two-day pass from the drug-treatment program in Cincinnati he had been ordered to attend as a result of a burglary conviction. He took to the streets of Dayton, smoking crack and huffing. On Dec. 25, King let Ferguson into his home. King was later found stabbed eight times and had a bootprint-shaped bruise on his chest. After the killing, Ferguson went to a bridge by the river to think. "I tried to put a bread bag over my head and just do myself in because I knew what I did was wrong," he later told police.

That same day, the Fugates were picked up by their son, James Cornett, and taken to his nearby home. He rented a western movie for his father, who loved westerns, and the couple enjoyed a Christmas dinner prepared by Cornett before returning home. Cornett returned to his parents' home Dec. 27 and found their bodies lying side-by-side on the living-room floor. They had both been stabbed, and the rings were missing from their fingers. Arlie Fugate had an impression of a boot on his cheek.

Prosecutors said robbery was the motive for the three killings. Stolen were a couple of televisions, some jewelry, a boom box and some change from a water jug. The items were sold to buy crack cocaine and paint for huffing.

Ferguson admitted the killings to police investigators, to prosecutors and in a letter to the trial judge. "I planned on killing other people, but I got caught too soon," Ferguson wrote. During a psychological exam to determine whether Ferguson was competent to take charge of his case, waive a jury trial and plead guilty, he told the psychologist he had killed eight other people.

Dayton police Detective Doyle Burke investigated Ferguson's claims and found them without merit. He said there were no unsolved homicides or missing persons that matched up with what Ferguson described. "I think he wanted to boost his numbers in the serial-killer ranks," Burke said.

On Sept. 9, 2003, Ferguson appeared before a three-judge panel in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court and pleaded guilty. After prosecutors presented evidence and Ferguson presented no mitigating evidence, the panel found Ferguson guilty and sentenced him to death. In April, the Ohio Supreme Court unanimously upheld Ferguson's conviction and sentence, ruling that evidence supported the conclusion he was competent. On July 20, the Ohio Adult Parole Authority recommended that clemency be denied, saying there didn't seem to be any justifiable basis for mercy.

Just prior to sentencing by the trial court in 2003, Ferguson hurled a verbal dagger into the hearts of the victims' families, reading a statement against the wishes of his attorneys. "I took the satisfaction ... of killing your loved ones with pleasure. And I enjoyed it," Ferguson said. "I will never show any remorse, even on the day I die."


ProDeathPenalty.com

On 12/26/01, Darrell Ferguson murdered 61-year-old Thomas King at Mr. King's home on the east side of Dayton. Ferguson broke into Thomas King's home, grabbed a knife from the kitchen, and stabbed Thomas repeatedly in the chest. Ferguson then stole televisions and stereos from the home and sold the items in order to buy crack cocaine.

On 12/27/01, Ferguson murdered 68-year-old Arlie Fugate and his wife, 69-year-old Mae Fugate. Ferguson broke into the couple's home and stabbed them with a knife from their kitchen. Ferguson then proceeded to stomp on their bodies with steel-toed boots. Ferguson later wrote a handwritten letter in which he admitted to intentionally and maliciously murdering the victims.


Democracyinaction.org

Darrell Ferguson - Ohio - August 8, 2006

Do Not Execute Darrell Ferguson

Darrell Ferguson, a white male, was sentenced to death after being convicted of the aggravated murders of Thomas King, Arlie Fugate and Mae Fugate. In December 2001, Ferguson was granted a two-day pass from a halfway house to visit his mother but failed to return when his pass expired. Instead, he fatally stabbed and beat three elderly victims, who were acquaintances of his, and stole household items including television sets and wedding rings. Ferguson admitted the killings to friends and was therefore identified as the primary suspect.

Prior to his trial, Ferguson waived his right to a jury, pled guilty to all charges, and waived his right to presentation of any mitigating evidence. A court-appointed clinical psychologist then conducted an evaluation of the defendant and deemed him competent of standing trial.

However, Ferguson’s mental health history may suggest otherwise. Medical records show that he had been receiving treatment over several years for ADHD and other psychiatric disorders, including bipolar disorder. Ferguson engaged in activities frequently associated with brain damage, including a long history of substance abuse. His medical records provide reasons to believe that he may have brain dysfunction, but results of any neuropsychological testing were never presented to a jury.

Ferguson has an IQ of 77, was enrolled in special education, and demonstrated “significant elevations on the Mania, Antisocial Features, and Aggression scales” through personality testing. He has also been hospitalized due to suicide attempts. Ferguson had been prescribed a mood stabilizing drug, an antidepressant drug, a drug used to decrease agitation, and a drug used to control aggressive behavior. However, he had refused to take them for the two and a half months leading up to the time of the murders.

The Ohio Supreme Court referred to Ferguson as a “remorseless, sadistic, and incorrigible killer.” Although it is true that this man has committed a senseless and brutal act, it is also senseless and brutal to allow the State of Ohio to kill this deeply troubled, mentally ill man.

Please write to Gov. Bob Taft on behalf of Darrell Ferguson.


State v. Ferguson, 108 Ohio St.3d 451, 844 N.E.2d 806 (Ohio 2006). (Direct Appeal)

Background: After waiving jury trial and mitigation, defendant was convicted on guilty pleas in the Court of Common Pleas, Montgomery County, No. 02-CR-0353, of capital murder and related crimes, and sentenced to death. Defendant appealed.

Holdings: The Supreme Court, Alice Robie Resnick, J., held that:
(1) licensed clinical psychologist was qualified to determine defendant's competency to waive jury trial and to waive mitigation;
(2) determination that defendant was competent to waive jury trial and waive mitigation prior to obtaining results of neuropsychological testing was not plain error;
(3) psychologist's determination that defendant was competent to waive jury trial and waive mitigation was not subject to greater scrutiny simply because defendant was actively seeking death penalty;
(4) defendant was not entitled to reversal of convictions based on claims of ineffective assistance of counsel;
(5) defendant who was represented by counsel did not have constitutional right to file pro se motion to waive oral argument;
(6) evidence supported findings of aggravating circumstances, for sentencing purposes; and
(7) aggravating circumstances outweighed mitigating circumstances beyond reasonable doubt. Affirmed.

ALICE ROBIE RESNICK, J.

Darrell W. Ferguson, defendant-appellant, was convicted of, and sentenced to death for, the aggravated murders of Thomas King, Arlie Fugate, and Mae Fugate. Ferguson raises 16 propositions of law. Finding none meritorious, we affirm his convictions. We have also independently weighed the aggravating circumstances against the mitigating factors and have compared Ferguson's sentences of death to those imposed in similar cases, as R.C. 2929.05(A) requires. As a result, we affirm Ferguson's death sentences.

Facts

In July 1999, Ferguson was convicted of burglary and sentenced to two years in prison. On November 8, 2001, Ferguson, while on postrelease control, was ordered to complete a substance-abuse treatment program at Talbert House in Cincinnati.

On December 20, 2001, Ferguson was granted a two-day pass to visit his mother at her Dayton home. The pass was effective from 9:00 a.m. on December 21 until 12:00 p.m. on December 23, when he was required to return to Talbert House. Ferguson went to his mother's Dayton home, but he did not return to Talbert House when his pass expired.

Around 4:00 a.m. on December 23, 2001, Ferguson broke into the Dayton apartment of James Nicholson, a double amputee in a wheelchair, and William Ferrell. Once inside the apartment, Ferguson knocked Nicholson to the ground, removed Nicholson's wallet from his pants pocket, and took cash from the wallet. As he left, Ferguson warned Nicholson and Ferrell that if they called the police, he would return and kill them.

At some time on December 25, 2001, Ferguson went to Thomas King's home in east Dayton. Ferguson knew the 61-year-old King because Ferguson's mother had been married to King's brother. King was disabled and could walk only with crutches.

Ferguson knocked on the door, and King, who was alone, let Ferguson into the house. After Ferguson and King talked for a time, Ferguson attacked King, repeatedly stabbed him with a kitchen knife, and kicked and stomped King with his steel-toed boots. Following the attack, Ferguson took a 13-inch television, a 19-inch television, and a stereo “boom box” and fled.

According to his later confession, Ferguson then went to a Meijer's store and purchased some gold spray paint to “huff,” i.e., to inhale the paint vapors for a quick high. Ferguson then went to an area underneath a bridge and “tried to put a bread bag over [his] face to go ahead and just do [himself] in because [he] knew what [he] did was wrong.”

On the evening of December 26, Ferguson went to the home of 68-year-old Arlie Fugate and 69-year-old Mae Fugate in east Dayton. Ferguson knew them because Ferguson's family had once lived near the Fugate home.

Ferguson knocked on the Fugates' door and asked to use their bathroom. The Fugates let Ferguson inside their house. After Ferguson came out of the bathroom, he took a knife from the kitchen and attacked the Fugates. Ferguson repeatedly stabbed, stomped, and kicked both of them with his boots. Following the attack, Ferguson stole Mae's wedding ring and other jewelry, Arlie's wedding band, and loose change that was kept in jars and jugs in the house. Ferguson then left the house.

After leaving the Fugate home, Ferguson walked to Sid's Towing Service. Around 1:00 a.m. or 1:30 a.m. on December 27, Ferguson approached Jeffrey Fleming Jr., an acquaintance who worked at Sid's Towing. Ferguson asked Fleming for a ride to another location in Dayton, and Fleming drove him there. Fleming noticed blood on Ferguson's jeans, but Ferguson told Fleming that the blood was from a fight.

After the murders, Ferguson traded several of the stolen items to Vicki Miller for crack cocaine. Miller identified Ferguson from a photo array as the man who had made the trade. Police recovered this property from Miller's residence in Dayton, from Miller's father, and from a Dayton pawn shop. The 13-inch television was never recovered.

Around noon on December 27, Ferguson went to the Dayton home of Ricky Webb, an acquaintance. Webb, Dwayne Abney, and Willie Townsend were at the house when Ferguson arrived. Ferguson said that he wanted to watch the noon headlines on television. The group then watched news coverage of the three murders. Ferguson said that he had killed the victims at both locations. In describing what happened, Ferguson said “that one guy went to pull a weapon on him. * * * He said he let him have it. And * * * that's what they * * * had coming to them for trying to pull a weapon on him.”

While watching the news, Ferguson asked how to get blood out of clothes. Townsend told him to soak the clothes in cold water. Abney noticed that there were darkish brown stains on the bottom of Ferguson's jeans and that Ferguson was wearing black, steel-toed boots.

Later on December 27, Ferguson went to the Dayton home of Irma Hess, where he washed his pants to get the blood out. Ferguson remained at the Hess home until he was arrested the next day.

Around 8:00 p.m. on December 26, police were dispatched to the King home after a friend found King's body. Police noticed that the rear door to the house was ajar, but found no signs of forced entry.

King's body, found on the dining room floor, had sustained multiple knife wounds and a severe beating to his face. Two kitchen knives were found near King's body. The wall near King's body was heavily covered with blood spatter. Police also found a distinctive bloody footprint on King's pants, and similar bloody footprints were found on the carpet near his body.

The dining room area had been rifled, but the rest of the house showed no signs of being ransacked. Police later determined that a 19-inch television had been stolen from the dining room, a stereo “boom box” from the kitchen, and a 13-inch television from the bedroom.

Around 9:00 a.m. on December 27, James Cornett, the Fugates' son, discovered Arlie's and Mae's bodies on their living room floor. Police arriving at the Fugate home found the front door ajar, but found no signs of forced entry.

The bodies of Arlie and Mae were found next to each other in the living room. Arlie and Mae sustained multiple stab wounds and had been badly beaten. It appeared that the bodies had been arranged in the center of the room, and that **811 Arlie had been dragged by his shoulders to that position, because his pants and underwear were pulled down to his hips. A bloodstained kitchen knife was found near the bodies. Police also found bloodstains near the front door, on living room furniture and carpeting, and on a dining room chair and carpeting. A bloody foot impression was also left on Arlie's face.

The living room had been ransacked. Arlie's wallet was next to his feet, and its contents were scattered on the floor. A fanny pack and Mae's wallet were lying next to Arlie's head, and her wallet had been rifled through. After talking to Cornett, police learned that Mae's rings and Arlie's wedding band had been taken from their hands. Jugs and jars filled with coins were also missing from the home.

As the investigation progressed, Ferguson was identified as the primary suspect. On December 28, the police obtained an arrest warrant for Ferguson for the Nicholson robbery and learned that Ferguson was staying at the Hess home.

At 3:00 p.m. on December 28, Detectives Gary Dunsky, Doyle Burke, and another uniformed police officer went to the Hess home. When the police came to the door, Irma Hess confirmed that Ferguson was inside. The police then entered the house, placed Ferguson under arrest, and took him to the police station.

At the station, Det. Burke advised Ferguson of his Miranda rights, and he waived those rights. Subsequently, Ferguson provided the police with a detailed account of the murders reflecting facts already described. Ferguson also gave a videotaped confession.

Denise K. Rankin, a forensic scientist, conducted DNA testing of bloodstains on Ferguson's boots. DNA testing of one bloodstain showed “a mixture where Arlie Fugate and Thomas King * * * are possible contributors.” DNA testing of another bloodstain on the boots showed “a mixture where Arlie Fugate is a possible contributor.” According to Rankin, the probability of an individual contributing to the mixed profile of this second stain is one in 62,770,000 Caucasians, one in 43,220,000 African Americans, one in 40,210,000 Southeastern Hispanics, and one in 21,120,000 Southwestern Hispanics. Ferguson is a Caucasian.

Daniel Lee Bibby, an expert in trace analysis, compared sole prints from Ferguson's boots with bloody impressions found on the victims' bodies and at the King and Fugate homes. Bibby concluded that the imprint left on Arlie's face was consistent with Ferguson's right boot heel. Bibby also found that shoe impressions on two carpet samples from King's home were consistent with the tread pattern from Ferguson's right boot. Finally, Bibby found that impressions from “red-brown material” on King's pants were similar to an element in the tread pattern of Ferguson's boots.

Dr. Russell Uptegrove, Deputy Coroner for Montgomery County, performed or supervised autopsies of all three victims. Mae suffered numerous stab wounds and blunt-force injuries to the head and face. She died as the result of “multiple stab wounds of the back.” Arlie suffered numerous blunt-force facial injuries that were consistent with being kicked or stomped. Arlie died from “[m]ultiple stab wounds of the chest.” King also suffered numerous blunt-force injuries to the head consistent with being kicked or stomped with steel-toed boots. He suffered six stab wounds in the chest caused by a single-edge knife. King died as the result of multiple sharp and blunt-force injuries.

Before trial, Ferguson wrote letters to the judge and the prosecutor. In a January 3, 2003 letter, Ferguson informed the prosecutor, “I committed all 3 murders[,] burglarys, [and] robberys.” (Sic.) Ferguson also wrote, “I wish to get this over with as soon as possible. * * * I Darrell Wayne Ferguson wishes to seek the Death penalty.” (Sic.)

In a January 7, 2003 letter, Ferguson wrote the trial judge that when he went to King's home, he “hit [King] and beat hime to death and then stabbed hime. [He] took the t.v. and sold them.” (Sic.) As to the Fugate murders, Ferguson stated, “[I] club[b]ed [Mae] in the forehead with a metal and wooden candle stick holder. I beat her down untill she could not move. I beat arlie to death as well and then stabbed both of them.” (Sic.) Ferguson wrote, “[W]hat is done is done and if i could bring them back i wouldn't. I have no Remorse for what i did.” (Sic.) He also wrote, “[I] * * * is asking you in my right state of mind would you please Find it in good will to give me the Death penalty.” (Sic.)

Case history

A grand jury indicted Ferguson on six counts of aggravated murder. Count 6 charged Ferguson with the aggravated murder of King while committing aggravated burglary, and Count 7 charged him with the aggravated murder of King while committing aggravated robbery. Count 11 charged Ferguson with the aggravated murder of Mae while committing aggravated burglary, and Count 12 charged him with the aggravated murder of Mae while committing aggravated robbery. Count 13 charged Ferguson with the aggravated murder of Arlie while committing aggravated burglary, and Count 14 charged him with the aggravated murder of Arlie while committing aggravated robbery.

The six counts of aggravated murder each contained five identical death-penalty specifications: murder to escape detection or apprehension, R.C. 2929.04(A)(3); murder while at large after breaking detention, R.C. 2929.04(A)(4); murder as a “course of conduct” in killing two or more people, R.C. 2929.04(A)(5); murder while committing or attempting to commit aggravated burglary, R.C. 2929.04(A)(7); and murder while committing or attempting to commit aggravated robbery, R.C. 2929.04(A)(7).

Ferguson was also indicted for escape in Count 1, aggravated burglary of Nicholson's residence in Count 2, robbery of Nicholson in Count 3, aggravated burglary of the King home in Count 4, and aggravated robbery of King in Count 5. Additionally, Ferguson was charged with aggravated burglary of the Fugate home in Count 8, aggravated robbery of Mae in Count 9, aggravated robbery of Arlie in Count 10, and evidence tampering in Count 15.

Ferguson waived a jury trial and pleaded guilty to all counts and specifications. After reviewing a court-ordered competency evaluation and questioning Ferguson about his decisions, the trial court ruled that Ferguson was competent to stand trial and that he had knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waived his right to a jury trial.

The three-judge panel accepted Ferguson's guilty plea and found Ferguson guilty on all the noncapital counts, and the state presented evidence of Ferguson's guilt on the capital counts pursuant to R.C. 2945.06 and Crim.R. 11(C)(3)(c). See State v. Green (1998), 81 Ohio St.3d 100, 104, 689 N.E.2d 556 (holding that in a capital case, a three-judge panel accepting a guilty plea must hear evidence to determine whether the defendant is guilty of aggravated murder beyond a reasonable doubt). Having found Ferguson to be competent, the three-judge panel found Ferguson guilty of all counts and specifications. Ferguson waived the presentation of mitigating evidence. After finding that Ferguson was competent to waive mitigation, the three-judge panel sentenced Ferguson to death for the murders and to prison for the remaining offenses.

Ferguson now appeals to this court as a matter of right.

Competency evaluation . In his first, second, third, and fourth propositions of law, Ferguson challenges the sufficiency of his competency evaluation. In his first proposition of law, Ferguson claims that the psychologist who examined him was not qualified to evaluate his competency, because Ferguson had been prescribed psychotropic medications. Ferguson argues that only a psychiatrist licensed to prescribe medication would be qualified to render an opinion on his competence.

Before trial, Ferguson informed the court that he wished to waive a jury trial, plead guilty, and waive mitigation. The trial court, sua sponte, ordered an evaluation of Ferguson to determine his “general competency and competency to waive mitigation.” The defense then requested that a psychiatrist be appointed as one of the examiners. On March 31, 2003, the trial court appointed Dr. Barbra A. Bergman, a clinical psychologist, to conduct a competency evaluation.

During April and May 2003, Dr. Bergman conducted her competency evaluation of Ferguson. On May 21, 2003, Dr. Bergman completed a written report finding that Ferguson was competent to stand trial and competent to waive mitigation. The defense then requested that a psychiatrist be appointed to provide a second opinion on Ferguson's competency. However, the trial court denied this request and thereafter found that Ferguson was competent.

R.C. 2945.371(A) provides that a competency examination shall be conducted by an “examiner,” defined by R.C. 2945.37(A)(2)(a) as either a “psychiatrist or a licensed clinical psychologist.” The appointment of Dr. Bergman, a licensed clinical psychologist, met that criterion.

Dr. Bergman was fully qualified to evaluate whether Ferguson's prescription medications would have affected his competency. In a very similar case, State v. Mink, 101 Ohio St.3d 350, 2004-Ohio-1580, 805 N.E.2d 1064, ¶ 34-35, this court held that clinical psychologists appointed to conduct separate competency examinations were qualified to evaluate the effects of antidepressant medication in evaluating the defendant's competency.

Moreover, Dr. Bergman's report shows that before concluding that Ferguson was competent, she was aware that Ferguson was taking or had taken various prescription medications. Dr. Bergman learned from Ferguson that he had been “prescribed Depakote (a mood stabilizer), Effexor (an antidepressant), Ativan (to decrease agitation), and Risperdal (to control aggressive behavior).” Ferguson told Dr. Bergman that he had taken those medications for 14 months but had refused to take them for the two and a half months that he had been in jail. Ferguson said that taking the medication had resulted in “drooling, acid reflux, and ‘feeling bad.’ ” He also said that “the doctors did not care about the side effects, because the medication kept him from ‘killing someone and going into black rages.’ ” However, Ferguson reported that since he stopped taking these medications, “he is better able to focus, feels more motivated, and feels better about himself.”

Dr. Bergman also conducted a mental-status examination and other psychological tests to evaluate Ferguson's mental state. When Ferguson was not taking his medication in jail, he displayed “no symptomatic behaviors” and “no active symptoms of a major mental disorder.” Dr. Bergman then made her primary diagnosis that Ferguson had an antisocial-personality disorder. Thus, Dr. Bergman was aware that Ferguson had been prescribed various medications and that he had ceased taking those medications, and she considered those factors before concluding that Ferguson was competent.

Further, the defense had an alternative means of bringing the effect of prescription medications to the court's attention. Before the competency evaluation, Dr. Douglas Mossman, a psychiatrist and defense consultant, examined Ferguson. Dr. Mossman reviewed Ferguson's medical records and was aware of prescription medications that Ferguson was taking or had taken. Thus, Dr. Mossman was available to alert the defense to any issues regarding the effects of prescription medication on Ferguson's competency. However, the defense never mentioned to the court whether Dr. Mossman had any concerns on that score.

Moreover, the court received Ferguson's own assurances that his ability to understand the proceedings was not adversely affected by any prescription medication. See State v. Mink, 101 Ohio St.3d 350, 2004-Ohio-1580, 805 N.E.2d 1064, ¶ 37. After receiving Dr. Bergman's competency evaluation, the trial court questioned Ferguson about taking prescription medications before accepting his request to waive a jury trial. The trial court asked Ferguson whether he was “under the influence of any alcohol, drugs, or medication that would impair-stand in the way of-[his] ability to understand [the court] here today and to think logically.” Ferguson answered, “No, sir.”

The three-judge panel also questioned Ferguson about taking prescription medications before accepting his guilty plea. The panel asked Ferguson, “[Are] you[ ] under the influence of any alcohol, drug, or medication that would impair - meaning, stand in the way of - your ability to understand me or to think clearly[?] Any medication that you're on or is there anything that's blocking your ability to comprehend and dialogue with me here today?” Ferguson replied, “No, sir.”

Finally, even if Ferguson had been taking psychotropic medication, this fact alone would not have affected the court's findings on competency. R.C. 2945.37(F) provides that a “court shall not find a defendant incompetent to stand trial solely because the defendant is * * * receiving or has received psychotropic drugs or other medication.” See State v. Mink, 101 Ohio St.3d 350, 2004-Ohio-1580, 805 N.E.2d 1064, ¶ 38. Indeed, a defendant may be emotionally disturbed or even mentally ill and yet competent to stand trial. Id. at ¶ 38, citing State v. Bock (1986), 28 Ohio St.3d 108, 110, 28 OBR 207, 502 N.E.2d 1016.

Based on the foregoing, we overrule Ferguson's first proposition. In his second proposition of law, Ferguson argues that the court erred in finding that he was competent before previously ordered neuropsychological testing of Ferguson had been completed.

In a pretrial motion, the defense requested funds to conduct a thorough neuropsychological test battery, a sleep-deprived electroencephalogram (“EEG”), a lumbar puncture, and a positron emission tomographic (“PET”) study of Ferguson's brain. Dr. Mossman, the defense psychiatric expert, submitted an affidavit stating that such testing would assist in evaluating Ferguson's mental status and whether he suffered from brain damage or mental retardation. In an order dated February 25, 2003, the trial court approved the defense request.

The record is unclear whether the additional neuropsychological testing on Ferguson was ever conducted. In a pretrial hearing on March 13, 2003, Ferguson informed the court that he intended to plead guilty and waive mitigation. The focus of the trial proceedings then shifted to whether Ferguson was competent to waive a jury trial, plead guilty, and waive mitigation. During the remainder of the trial, the defense neither mentioned whether neuropsychological testing was conducted nor disclosed the test results if such testing had been completed.

Moreover, Ferguson failed to object at trial to the competency evaluation based on claims that neuropsychological testing was not completed or that test results were not considered. Thus, Ferguson has waived all but plain error. See State v. Childs (1968), 14 Ohio St.2d 56, 43 O.O.2d 119, 236 N.E.2d 545, paragraph three of the syllabus; State v. Underwood (1983), 3 Ohio St.3d 12, 13-14, 3 OBR 360, 444 N.E.2d 1332.

There was no plain error. R.C. 2945.371(G) requires the examiner to file a written report with the court that shall include (1) the examiner's findings, (2) the facts on which the findings are based, in reasonable detail, and (3) the findings or recommendations applicable to the issue of the defendant's competency to stand trial, i.e., whether the defendant is capable of understanding the nature of the proceedings and of assisting in his or her defense. Dr. Bergman's competency evaluation met these criteria.

Dr. Bergman clinically interviewed Ferguson for nine and one-half hours over five days. During these interviews, Ferguson provided Dr. Bergman with a detailed history of his family background, his history of substance abuse, and his mental problems. Dr. Bergman also administered various psychological tests, including the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-III, the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2, and the Personality Assessment Inventory. Additionally, Dr. Bergman reviewed Ferguson's medical records from Dr. Robert Hardman, a pediatric neurologist, the Miami Valley Hospital, Greene Memorial Hospital, and Talbert House. She also considered police reports and other court documents relating to the charged offenses. Thus, Dr. Bergman considered an abundance of information about Ferguson's medical and psychiatric history.

Moreover, the defense controlled whether additional neurological testing of Ferguson was completed and whether the test results were provided to Dr. Bergman and the court. Thus, Dr. Bergman could consider evidence of neurological testing only if the defense disclosed the results of such testing. However, this was not done.

Finally, Ferguson does not reveal how additional neurological testing would have changed the results of his competency evaluation. It is purely speculative whether additional testing would have made any difference in the outcome of his competency evaluation. See State v. Mink, 101 Ohio St.3d 350, 2004-Ohio-1580, 805 N.E.2d 1064, ¶ 94.

Based on the foregoing, we overrule Ferguson's second proposition. In his third proposition of law, Ferguson argues that the trial court's findings of competency were flawed because the evaluations did not adequately address medical diagnoses requiring psychotropic medication, his suicide attempts, and his hospitalizations. However, this claim also lacks merit.

In the competency evaluation, Dr. Bergman discussed Ferguson's medical diagnoses. After reviewing Ferguson's medical records, Dr. Bergman informed the court that Ferguson “has been given a number of different diagnoses since childhood. Some of the diagnoses were apparently supplied by Mr. Ferguson (i.e. Multiple Personality Disorder and Schizophrenia) and have not been given by qualified mental health professionals. Dr. Robert Hardman, M.D., a pediatric neurologist, treated Ferguson with medication for ADHD [Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder] and Bipolar Disorder. He also diagnosed [a] Conduct Disorder. On two occasions, during contacts at Miami Valley Hospital, Mr. Ferguson was diagnosed with drug-induced psychotic reactions.” Dr. Bergman also reported that Ferguson had a long history of substance abuse and treatment in various substance-abuse programs.

Dr. Bergman's evaluation discussed various prescription medications that Ferguson had taken. These included Ritalin and Wellbutrin (an antidepressant) that Ferguson had been prescribed as a child. Additionally, Dr. Bergman noted that his prescription for Effexor was refilled when he was sent to Talbert House.

Dr. Bergman also reported medications that Ferguson said had been prescribed for him, including “Depakote (a mood stabilizer), Effexor (an antidepressant), Ativan (to decrease agitation) and Risperdal (to control aggressive behavior).” Ferguson said that he had taken these medications for 14 months, but he has refused to take them while in jail, with the result that he feels better, more motivated, and more focused.

Dr. Bergman's report also addressed Ferguson's suicide attempts. Dr. Bergman reported that “when he was 19 years of age (1997), he made a suicide attempt by eating rat poison and was hospitalized in the psychiatric unit at Miami Valley Hospital for three weeks. He indicated that he was hospitalized at Miami Valley Hospital because of suicidal feelings several times in 1997. Then, according to [Ferguson], he began getting into a lot of legal trouble, so he ‘stopped feeling suicidal.’ ” Dr. Bergman also reported that Ferguson “denied any current thoughts or impulses for self harm.”

Finally, Dr. Bergman's report discussed Ferguson's hospitalizations. He was treated at Miami Valley Hospital in 1997 for two drug-induced psychotic episodes, an emergency-room contact after a suicide attempt, and an emergency-room contact with referral for outpatient substance-abuse treatment. Ferguson was also evaluated at Greene Memorial Hospital. Dr. Bergman reported that, after an intake evaluation, Ferguson was referred to a substance-abuse treatment program, but he did not follow up on the referral. Additionally, Dr. Bergman reported that while Ferguson was on parole during 2001, he admitted himself into a drug-detoxification program at the Kettering Medical Center to “avoid ‘getting slammed’ by his Probation Officer for having a dirty urine.”

Thus, Dr. Bergman's report informed the court of Ferguson's various diagnoses and prescription medications, his suicide attempts, and his hospitalizations. After carefully taking all these factors into consideration, Dr. Bergman found that Ferguson was competent.

Ferguson does not explain how his competency evaluation suffered from any lack of information about his diagnoses, psychotropic medication, suicide attempts, or hospitalizations. Nor does he claim that his medical or mental-health records included information that would have changed his competency determination. Thus, we reject Ferguson's claim that his competency evaluation was flawed. See State v. Mink, 101 Ohio St.3d 350, 2004-Ohio-1580, 805 N.E.2d 1064, ¶ 55.

Moreover, as discussed regarding Ferguson's first proposition of law, Dr. Mossman, the defense psychiatric consultant, was available to challenge Dr. Bergman's competency evaluation. However, the defense chose not to challenge Dr. Bergman's findings by calling Dr. Mossman as a witness.

Finally, in addition to Dr. Bergman's report, the trial court had the opportunity to observe Ferguson's demeanor and behavior in court. Both the trial court and the three-judge panel questioned Ferguson extensively before finding that he was competent. See State v. Ashworth (1999), 85 Ohio St.3d 56, 63, 706 N.E.2d 1231. We find that neither the trial court nor the three-judge panel abused its discretion in finding Ferguson competent, because reliable and credible evidence supported these findings. See State v. Vrabel, 99 Ohio St.3d 184, 2003-Ohio-3193, 790 N.E.2d 303, ¶ 33.

Based on the foregoing, we reject Ferguson's third proposition. In his fourth proposition of law, Ferguson argues that because he actively sought the death penalty, greater scrutiny was required in determining his competency.

We have previously held that greater scrutiny is not required in conducting a competency evaluation merely because the defendant seeks the death penalty. See State v. Mink, 101 Ohio St.3d 350, 2004-Ohio-1580, 805 N.E.2d 1064, at ¶ 56-61. We find no basis for overturning that ruling.

Ferguson argues that Mink is distinguishable because two psychologists conducted separate competency evaluations in that case and only one psychologist evaluated Ferguson. However, we reject this argument. First, the trial court was not required to appoint more than one examiner to conduct the competency evaluation. See R.C. 2945.371(A). Second, Ferguson fails to show how the appointment of a second examiner would have changed the outcome of his competency evaluation. Moreover, Dr. Mossman, the defense psychiatric consultant, evaluated Ferguson and was available to challenge the findings of Dr. Bergman, but never did so. Thus, it is purely speculative whether a second examiner would have made a difference in the outcome of Ferguson's competency evaluation.

Furthermore, the trial court went to great lengths before finding that Ferguson was competent. On its own motion, the trial court ordered that Ferguson undergo a competency evaluation. Thereafter, Dr. Bergman evaluated Ferguson and found that he was competent. The trial court then thoroughly questioned Ferguson before finding that he was competent to stand trial and competent to waive his right to a jury trial.

After the three-judge panel assembled, the court questioned Ferguson at length before finding that he was competent to stand trial, to waive his right to a jury trial, and to plead guilty. Moreover, before the penalty phase, the three-judge panel questioned Ferguson again before finding that he was competent to waive mitigation.

Based on the foregoing, Ferguson's fourth proposition is overruled.

Ineffective assistance of counsel . In his sixth proposition of law, Ferguson raises several claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. Reversal of convictions for ineffective assistance of counsel requires that the defendant show, first, that counsel's performance was deficient, and second, that the deficient performance prejudiced the defense in such a way as to deprive the defendant of a fair trial. Strickland v. Washington (1984), 466 U.S. 668, 687, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d 674. Accord State v. Bradley (1989), 42 Ohio St.3d 136, 538 N.E.2d 373, paragraph two of the syllabus.

First, Ferguson claims that his counsel were deficient in failing to request a psychiatrist to conduct the evaluation. However, the record shows that trial counsel did request the appointment of a psychiatrist. Following Dr. Bergman's evaluation, trial counsel requested that Dr. Douglas Lehrer, a psychiatrist, provide a second opinion on Ferguson's competency. Moreover, after the three-judge panel was assembled, trial counsel renewed their request that a psychiatrist provide a second opinion on Ferguson's competency. Thus, we find that this claim of ineffectiveness lacks merit.

Second, Ferguson argues that his counsel were deficient in failing to object to the competency evaluation because the examiner completed it without the benefit of Ferguson's psychiatric records. Dr. Bergman stated that she reviewed Ferguson's medical records from Dr. Hardman, the Miami Valley Hospital, Greene Memorial Hospital, and Talbert House. However, Ferguson does not identify other medical records that Dr. Bergman failed to consider, and this claim is therefore speculative. Thus, we also reject this ineffectiveness claim.

Third, Ferguson asserts that his counsel were ineffective by not objecting to the competency evaluation because it failed to discuss the possible impact of medication on Ferguson's original decision to request the death penalty. Dr. Bergman reviewed Ferguson's medical records and considered the medications that he was prescribed but no longer taking. As discussed regarding his first proposition of law, Ferguson told Dr. Bergman that he stopped taking his prescription medications during the two and one-half months that he was in pretrial confinement. Ferguson reported that after he stopped taking these medications, “he is better able to focus, feels more motivated, and feels better about himself.” Defense counsel could reasonably presume that the effects of Ferguson's medications on his decision to request the death penalty were not a concern. See State v. Mink, 101 Ohio St.3d 350, 2004-Ohio-1580, 805 N.E.2d 1064, ¶ 92. Accordingly, we find that counsel were not deficient for failing to raise this objection.

Fourth, Ferguson contends that his counsel were ineffective in failing to object to the competency evaluation because it did not address the medical diagnoses that caused a physician to prescribe psychotropic medications. He also claims that his counsel were deficient by stipulating to Dr. Bergman's testimony and thus giving up the opportunity to cross-examine her.

Ferguson does not explain how his counsel's failure to object to the failure to link his prescription medications to a specific medical diagnosis would have made a difference in the outcome of his competency evaluation. Dr. Mossman, the defense psychiatric consultant, was aware of Ferguson's medications, reviewed his medical records, and was aware of his medical diagnoses. Thus, counsel may have decided to forgo an objection based upon information obtained through their own expert. Given the “strong presumption” that counsel's performance constituted reasonable assistance, we reject this allegation. State v. Bradley, 42 Ohio St.3d at 144, 538 N.E.2d 373.

Moreover, counsel were not ineffective in stipulating that Dr. Bergman “would be qualified as an expert and she would testify in accordance with her report.” The state would have likely called Dr. Bergman as a witness if the defense had not agreed to stipulate. By stipulating, the defense avoided the danger of reiterating the state's evidence and eliciting further expert testimony that might be damaging. Thus, counsel's action was a “legitimate tactical decision” that does not constitute ineffective assistance of counsel. See State v. Foust, 105 Ohio St.3d 137, 2004-Ohio-7006, 823 N.E.2d 836, ¶ 90; State v. Hanna, 95 Ohio St.3d 285, 2002-Ohio-2221, 767 N.E.2d 678, ¶ 121-123.

Finally, Ferguson claims that his counsel were deficient in failing to assert his rights under international law. As discussed regarding Ferguson's seventh proposition, his rights under international law were not violated by imposition of the death penalty. Thus, we find that counsel were not deficient by failing to assert these rights at trial. See State v. Mink, 101 Ohio St.3d 350, 2004-Ohio-1580, 805 N.E.2d 1064, ¶ 95.

Weighing of aggravating circumstances and mitigating factors . In his fifth proposition of law, Ferguson argues that the death penalties must be vacated because the aggravating circumstances do not outweigh the mitigating factors of substance abuse and mental problems beyond a reasonable doubt. We will consider this argument during our independent sentence evaluation.

Constitutional and international law challenges . In his seventh through 16th propositions of law, Ferguson raises various constitutional and treaty-related challenges against Ohio's death-penalty statutes. However, Ferguson failed to raise these claims at trial and thereby waived them. See State v. Awan (1986), 22 Ohio St.3d 120, 22 OBR 199, 489 N.E.2d 277, syllabus. Moreover, these challenges lack merit.

In his seventh proposition of law, Ferguson contends that his execution will violate international law and treaties to which the United States is a party. However, we have rejected similar arguments. See State v. Issa (2001), 93 Ohio St.3d 49, 69, 752 N.E.2d 904; State v. Bey (1999), 85 Ohio St.3d 487, 502, 709 N.E.2d 484; State v. Phillips (1995), 74 Ohio St.3d 72, 103-104, 656 N.E.2d 643.

In his eighth proposition of law, Ferguson argues that Ohio's death-penalty statutory scheme violates the United States and Ohio constitutional prohibitions against arbitrary and unequal punishment. However, these claims are without merit. See State v. Jenkins (1984), 15 Ohio St.3d 164, 169-170, 15 OBR 311, 473 N.E.2d 264; State v. Steffen (1987), 31 Ohio St.3d 111, 124-125, 31 OBR 273, 509 N.E.2d 383.

In his ninth proposition of law, Ferguson claims that Ohio's death-penalty scheme is unconstitutional because of unreliable sentencing procedures. However, we have rejected these arguments on previous occasions. See State v. Esparza (1988), 39 Ohio St.3d 8, 12-13, 529 N.E.2d 192; State v. Stumpf (1987), 32 Ohio St.3d 95, 104, 512 N.E.2d 598; State v. Jenkins, 15 Ohio St.3d at 172-173, 15 OBR 311, 473 N.E.2d 264.

In his tenth proposition of law, Ferguson asserts that Ohio's death-penalty statutes unconstitutionally fail to provide individualized sentencing because they require proof of aggravating circumstances during the guilt phase. This argument also has no merit. See Lowenfield v. Phelps (1988), 484 U.S. 231, 108 S.Ct. 546, 98 L.Ed.2d 568; State v. Henderson (1988), 39 Ohio St.3d 24, 28-29, 528 N.E.2d 1237; State v. Jenkins, 15 Ohio St.3d at 178, 15 OBR 311, 473 N.E.2d 264.

In his 11th proposition of law, Ferguson contends that Ohio's death-penalty scheme is unconstitutional because it imposes an impermissible risk of death on capital defendants who choose to exercise their right to a jury trial. We also reject this argument. See State v. Buell (1986), 22 Ohio St.3d 124, 138, 22 OBR 203, 489 N.E.2d 795, citing State v. Nabozny (1978), 54 Ohio St.2d 195, 8 O.O.3d 181, 375 N.E.2d 784, paragraph one of the syllabus.

In his 12th proposition of law, Ferguson challenges Ohio's death-penalty statutes because R.C. 2929.03(D)(1) requires submission of defense-requested presentence investigations (“PSIs”) and mental-health evaluations to the judge or jury. However, this argument is inapplicable to Ferguson's case because he declined a PSI and mental-health evaluation prior to sentencing. Moreover, we have previously rejected these arguments. See State v. Buell, 22 Ohio St.3d at 138, 22 OBR 203, 489 N.E.2d 795.

In his 13th proposition of law, Ferguson disputes the constitutionality of R.C. 2929.04(A)(7), the felony-murder aggravating circumstance, because it repeats the definition of felony murder set forth in R.C. 2903.01(B). However, we rejected similar arguments in State v. Jenkins, 15 Ohio St.3d at 178, 15 OBR 311, 473 N.E.2d 264; see, also, State v. Henderson, 39 Ohio St.3d at 28-29, 528 N.E.2d 1237; Coe v. Bell (C.A.6, 1998), 161 F.3d 320, 349-350.

In his 14th proposition of law, Ferguson asserts that language in R.C. 2929.03(D)(1) is unconstitutionally vague because it gives the sentencer unfettered discretion to weigh a statutory mitigating factor (see R.C. 2929.04(B): “the nature and circumstances of the offense”) as an aggravator. We have also previously overruled this claim. See State v. McNeill (1998), 83 Ohio St.3d 438, 453, 700 N.E.2d 596, citing Tuilaepa v. California (1994), 512 U.S. 967, 973-980, 114 S.Ct. 2630, 129 L.Ed.2d 750.

In his 15th proposition of law, Ferguson challenges the constitutionality of Ohio's death-penalty proportionality review. We summarily reject this claim. See State v. LaMar, 95 Ohio St.3d 181, 2002-Ohio-2128, 767 N.E.2d 166, ¶ 23; State v. Steffen, 31 Ohio St.3d 111, 31 OBR 273, 509 N.E.2d 383, paragraph one of the syllabus.

Finally, in his 16th proposition of law, Ferguson argues that his death sentences violate the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution because the trial court did not consider all of the evidence of mitigation in his case. However, Ferguson was found competent to waive mitigation, and thus Ashworth, 85 Ohio St.3d at 63, 706 N.E.2d 1231, applies. The court was not obliged to build a mitigation case for him. Nevertheless, the three-judge panel searched the record for mitigating evidence and considered such mitigation before sentencing Ferguson to death. Thus, we reject this claim. Ferguson is represented by counsel and has not requested to relinquish counsel and represent himself. He filed this motion after the case had already been briefed by his counsel and the state had filed an answer brief. Moreover, Ferguson's counsel filed no motions to waive oral argument.

Ferguson has no constitutional right to self-representation in the appellate process on direct appeal. Martinez v. California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate Dist. (2000), 528 U.S. 152, 163, 120 S.Ct. 684, 145 L.Ed.2d 597. Furthermore, “[a] defendant has no right to a ‘hybrid’ form of representation wherein he is represented by counsel, but also acts simultaneously as his own counsel.” State v. Keenan (1998), 81 Ohio St.3d 133, 138, 689 N.E.2d 929, citing McKaskle v. Wiggins (1984), 465 U.S. 168, 183, 104 S.Ct. 944, 79 L.Ed.2d 122.

We find that Ferguson's pro se motion lacks merit. Moreover, we determined that oral argument would be helpful in resolving the issues in this case and heard oral argument. Thus, Ferguson's pro se request was denied.

Independent sentence evaluation

Having considered Ferguson's propositions of law as required by R.C. 2929.05(A), we now independently review Ferguson's death sentences for appropriateness and proportionality. The evidence established beyond a reasonable doubt that Ferguson was properly convicted of the aggravating circumstances, namely, murder while under detention or while at large after having broken detention, R.C. 2929.04(A)(4), a “course of conduct” in killing two or more people, R.C. 2929.04(A)(5), and murder while committing or attempting to commit aggravated burglary, R.C. 2929.04(A)(7). Before the penalty phase, the three-judge panel merged the two (A)(7) specifications and merged the (A)(3) (escaping detection) specification with the (A)(5) and (A)(7) specifications.

We now weigh the aggravating circumstances against the mitigating factors contained in R.C. 2929.04(B). Ferguson presented no mitigating evidence during the penalty phase. However, he elected to make a statement in allocution prior to being sentenced. The three-judge panel also reviewed Dr. Bergman's competency evaluation and scoured the record for mitigating evidence before sentencing Ferguson to death.

The record reveals that Ferguson was born in Phoenix, Arizona and moved with his family to Dayton when he was three or four years old. His parents never married, and his father never lived with the family. Ferguson reported that his father visited him a few times during his childhood years, but he did not see very much of him.

Ferguson's mother had a number of boyfriends and married his stepfather when Ferguson was 17 or 18 years old. Ferguson said that his mother and most of her boyfriends used marijuana and alcohol. Ferguson's mother runs a business cleaning houses, and his stepfather works for the city of Dayton. Ferguson has a very close relationship with his mother, but does not get along with his stepfather. Ferguson also has an older sister and an older brother. He had another brother who committed suicide when Ferguson was 20 years old.

Ferguson attended Dayton area schools. Ferguson said that he was receiving As and Bs, but was in the “developmentally handicapped (DH) class and was slow to learn.” During the tenth grade, Ferguson was expelled from Dunbar High School. Ferguson said that his expulsion was related to “positive results on a drug test.”

Ferguson has been involved in two serious relationships with women. His first relationship started when he was 15 years old and lasted four years. Ferguson physically abused her, and the relationship ended when he “just left” because he could not stand to be around her any longer. Ferguson had a daughter during this relationship, but he has never had any contact with her.

Ferguson's second relationship began when he was 19 years old and lasted for two years. Ferguson said that his girlfriend left the relationship because she was afraid of him. According to Ferguson, “[s]he saw the type of rage that I am capable of.” On one occasion, Ferguson admitted that he “threw his girlfriend's ex-boyfriend through the window of a bus and then left the scene.”

Ferguson had a son during this relationship but has had no contact with the child since he was a baby. Ferguson “believes that his son would benefit from a relationship with him and also believes that if his son was with him, he would not have committed the instant offenses, because he would have been doing things for his son.”

Ferguson reported that after he left school, he worked as a stripper and was a street fighter. Ferguson described street fighting as an illegal, “underground” enterprise. According to him, he had “a trainer and a promoter and was paid between eighty and one hundred thousand dollars per fight, of which he actually pocketed forty thousand dollars.” Ferguson said that he “engaged in ten to fifteen fights per year and was never seriously hurt.” Ferguson also said that he “enjoyed jumping a freight train and riding somewhere.”He would sometimes be gone from four to six months at a time and always had money in his pocket as a result of his street-fighting success.

Ferguson said that he began using Toluene at the age of 16, steroids at the age of 17, and crack cocaine at the age of 20. Ferguson stated that he got addicted to crack and was using one to three ounces every three to four days. He also sold crack cocaine to cover his expenses and stated that he was “robbing the ‘dope boys'-beat them up and take it.”

Ferguson reported that he had no juvenile criminal history. However, Ferguson said that when he was 19, he was charged with numerous offenses, including several assaults, carrying a concealed weapon, several thefts, grand theft, and child endangering. He stated that he was placed on probation for these offenses. In 1999, Ferguson was convicted of burglary and sentenced to two years in prison.

Testing showed that Ferguson has below-average intelligence. Ferguson's full-scale IQ was 77 on the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-III. Personality testing “showed significant elevations on the Mania, Antisocial Features, and Aggression scales.” According to Dr. Bergman, “[t]he antisocial features of the profile appear to be most prominent and markedly elevated. An individual with such personality characteristics is typically unreliable and irresponsible, with little sustained success in social or occupational realms.” Dr. Bergman also found that “the aggression scale was also markedly elevated, indicative of an individual who is easily provoked and who shows explosive anger when frustrated.” However, Dr. Bergman found “no active symptoms of a major mental disorder,” and her primary diagnosis was that Ferguson had an antisocial personality disorder.

Ferguson's medical records show that he received treatment over several years for ADHD. He has also received treatment for “several psychiatric disorders, including bipolar disorder.” Dr. Mossman reported that Ferguson “has engaged in activities frequently associated with brain damage, and that past medical records suggest the possibility of neurological abnormalities.” Moreover, Dr. Mossman states that “a clinical psychiatric examination and evaluation of Mr. Ferguson's medical records provide strong reasons to believe that he has high impulsivity and that he may have brain dysfunction.”

1 Before sentencing, counsel stated that Ferguson wanted to read a letter to the court even though his lawyers advised him not to do so. Ferguson made the following statement to the court:

“Today I stand before the Court to be judged and sentenced for the crimes of murders of Thomas S. King, Sr., Arlie Fugate, and Mae Fugate. I do understand that the victim's family and the friends of the victim's family as well as others wants justice served * * * on a platter to them for what I did * * * in December of 2001.

* * *

“I, Darrell W. AKA Gator Ferguson, does not care if you're here to get justice served to you or not. I, Darrell W. AKA Gator Ferguson, does not care what you don't like about what I did to your loved ones. And I, Darrell W. AKA Gator Ferguson, does not care what you think about me, because who I am and what I am and * * * [I] will always remain that way.

“When I killed Thomas S. King, Sr., and Arlie Fugate and Mae Fugate, I did it intentionally, and the killings * * * were malicious and hideous acts just as I intended them to be. I took the satisfaction, Brenda King and James Cornett, of killing your loved ones with pleasure. And I enjoyed it.

* * *

“I, Darrell W. Gator Ferguson, does not have no remorse for either side of the victim's family nor do I have no remorse for their slaughtered loved ones. I hate you and I hate you and I hate you.

“I pray that Thomas S. King, Sr., Arlie Fugate, and Mae Fugate are in hell right now in agonizing pain and torment. They shall never rest, only burn for eternity.

“Brenda King and James Cornett, if I had the power to bring your loved ones back, I, Darrell W. Gator Ferguson, would not bring them back. I will never show any remorse even on that day that I die.

“The only thing I want for Thomas S. King, Sr., Arlie Fugate, Mae Fugate, is to suffer, burn, and have agonizing pain in hell.

“I sit in my cell every day for the past 21 months and * * * asked myself over and over where was your Jesus * * * to save his poor, innocent lambs. Your God of false hope has vanished into nothingness. * * * And if you consider my god, lord Satan, a killer, then it is his blood that runs through my veins and fills my heart full of hideous acts and hatred.

“ * * * Let's just say that if I was to be freed to go back out in society, I'd pick up where I left off from and take the pleasure of causing destruction. I'm not afraid of death like some of you are. * * *

“ * * * I will pray night and day as I sit in prison in my own darkness that for every one of you who are here to see justice served that you and your precious loved ones are driving down the road and the * * * car blows up and kills every one of you. May death come over all of you.

“To my God, and to my family and friends, love. And to my enemies, death. Hail, lord Satan. Done.”

Nothing in the nature and circumstances of the offenses appears mitigating. On December 25, 2001, Ferguson murdered King, an elderly and disabled man, and burglarized his home. On December 26, 2001, Ferguson murdered Arlie and Mae Fugate, an elderly couple, and burglarized their home. Ferguson committed all three murders as part of a course of conduct while he was at large after not returning to Talbert House.

We find that the statutory mitigating factors are generally inapplicable, including R.C. 2929.04(B)(1) (victim inducement), (B)(2) (duress, coercion, or strong provocation), and (B)(6) (accomplice only).

We give little weight to the R.C. 2929.04(B)(4) mitigating factor (youth of the offender) because Ferguson was 23 years old at the time of the offenses. See State v. Foust, 105 Ohio St.3d 137, 2004-Ohio-7006, 823 N.E.2d 836, ¶ 197; State v. Hartman (2001), 93 Ohio St.3d 274, 306, 754 N.E.2d 1150; State v. Dunlap (1995), 73 Ohio St.3d 308, 319, 652 N.E.2d 988.

We find the R.C. 2929.04(B)(5) mitigating factor (lack of a significant history of prior criminal convictions) to be inapplicable because of Ferguson's prior conviction for burglary.

The R.C. 2929.04(B)(3) mitigating factor is not applicable, because there was no evidence that Ferguson, by reason of a mental disease or defect, lacked substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law. However, under the catchall provision, R.C. 2929.04(B)(7), we give weight to Ferguson's history of mental health problems.

Ferguson suffers from ADHD and has received treatment for a bipolar disorder. He also has a long history of drug and alcohol abuse. Moreover, Dr. Mossman's evaluation suggests the possibility that Ferguson may have a neurological abnormality. On the other hand, Dr. Bergman's comprehensive evaluation of Ferguson found “no active symptoms of a major mental disorder,” and she diagnosed him with an antisocial-personality disorder.

We also give some weight under R.C. 2929.04(B)(7) to Ferguson's cooperation with the police and his guilty pleas. See State v. Mink, 101 Ohio St.3d 350, 2004-Ohio-1580, 805 N.E.2d 1064, at ¶ 125; State v. Rojas (1992), 64 Ohio St.3d 131, 143, 592 N.E.2d 1376.

However, Ferguson expressed no remorse for his crimes. Indeed, in his allocution statement, Ferguson stated in graphic terms that he took great satisfaction in killing his victims, felt no sorrow for his victims or their surviving family members, and if he was ever free, he would “pick up where [he] left off * * * and take the pleasure of causing destruction.” Thus, by his own words, Ferguson is a remorseless, sadistic, and incorrigible killer.

We find that Ferguson's history and background provide some mitigating value. Ferguson had a disruptive childhood and was raised in a dysfunctional family. Otherwise, his character offers no redeeming features.

After weighing the aggravating circumstances against the mitigating factors, we find that the aggravating circumstances as to each aggravated murder outweigh the mitigating factors beyond a reasonable doubt. Ferguson's course of conduct in murdering Thomas King and Arlie and Mae Fugate during the course of an aggravated burglary and while he was at large after breaking detention constitute grave aggravating circumstances. Ferguson's mitigating evidence pales in comparison.

We reject Ferguson's argument, in his fifth proposition of law, that the aggravating circumstances do not outweigh the mitigating factors because of the severity of his mental problems. Ferguson's primary diagnosis was an antisocial personality, and he displayed no active symptoms of a major mental disorder.

We find that the death penalties imposed in this case are both appropriate and proportionate when compared with other “course of conduct” murders. See State v. Foust, 105 Ohio St.3d 137, 2004-Ohio-7006, 823 N.E.2d 836, at ¶ 203; State v. Gapen, 104 Ohio St.3d 358, 2004-Ohio-6548, 819 N.E.2d 1047, ¶ 182; State v. Mink, 101 Ohio St.3d 350, 2004-Ohio-1580, 805 N.E.2d 1064, ¶ 130.

They are also appropriate and proportionate when compared to sentences in other burglary-murder cases. State v. Hughbanks, 99 Ohio St.3d 365, 2003-Ohio-4121, 792 N.E.2d 1081, ¶ 145; State v. Jones (2000), 90 Ohio St.3d 403, 423, 739 N.E.2d 300; State v. Campbell (1994), 69 Ohio St.3d 38, 56, 630 N.E.2d 339.

Finally, the death sentences are appropriate and proportionate to sentences in other murders committed while the defendant was under detention or at large after breaking detention. State v. Cassano, 96 Ohio St.3d 94, 2002-Ohio-3751, 772 N.E.2d 81, ¶ 130; State v. Hanna, 95 Ohio St.3d 285, 2002-Ohio-2221, 767 N.E.2d 678, ¶ 172.

Accordingly, we affirm Ferguson's convictions and sentences of death. We also dismiss Ferguson's pro se motion to waive oral argument. Judgment affirmed.

MOYER, C.J., PFEIFER, LUNDBERG STRATTON, O'CONNOR, O'DONNELL and LANZINGER, JJ., concur

 

 

 
 
 
 
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