Convicted murderer Ashford Thompson remains on death row five years after shooting and killing Tallmadge resident and Twinsburg Police Officer Joshua Miktarian in July 2008, with multiple appeals left to exhaust and an execution date not yet set.
The capital case was stayed by the state trial court Aug. 23, 2013, to await a decision by the Ohio Supreme Court, which is expected to rule on Thompson's August 2010 direct appeal of the death sentence.
Public defenders Kimberly Rigby and Rachel Troutman, who are representing Thompson during the appeals process, declined comment on the matter.
Thompson's execution was initially scheduled for June 23, 2011, and he appealed the sentence Aug. 6, 2010, to the Ohio Supreme Court. A stay of execution was granted by the Ohio Supreme Court Jan. 10, 2011, pending the final disposition of Thompson's initial, mandatory appeal.
Spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Corrections Ricky Seyfang said a new execution date is not known, as Thompson still has access to multiple levels of state and federal appeal processes.
"Mr. Thompson's case is pending direct appeal at the Ohio Supreme Court and pending post-conviction relief in the state trial court," Seyfang said. "There would then be appeals in the post-conviction relief matter and then all of the federal appeals ... it's impossible to give an exact number of appeals remaining because of the different levels of courts the case still has left to go through."
According to the Death Penalty Information Center, the average death row inmate spends around 10 years awaiting execution, with some on death row for up to 20 years.
The death penalty was handed down by Summit County Common Pleas Court Judge Elinore Marsh Stormer June 23, 2010, after Thompson was found guilty by a jury of two counts of aggravated murder, one count of escape, two counts of resisting arrest, three counts of tampering with evidence and one count of carrying a concealed weapon in the July 13, 2008, murder of Miktarian.
Thompson has been incarcerated in Chillicothe Correctional Institute since June 25, 2010.
The many appeals remaining for Thompson include requesting a review of the trial from the State Court of Appeals and requesting a writ of Habeas Corpus from the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Seyfang said this ongoing appellate process is not out of the ordinary for capital murder cases.
"Judicially, it doesn't seem to be uncommon," Seyfang said.
Representatives for Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh said capital cases can be a lengthy process.
"We don't have anything [new] at this time," said April Weisner, public information officer for Walsh's office.
Miktarian was shot multiple times at close range in the driveway of Thompson's former Glenwood Drive home after stopping Thompson for loud music and suspicion of drunk driving. Miktarian was the father of an infant daughter at the time, an 11-year veteran with the Twinsburg Police Department and a 1993 graduate of Tallmadge High School.
Miktarian's widow Holly said she understands the thorough and time-consuming nature of the appeals process, but hopes that her daughter Thea will not be old enough to be present if and when her father's murderer is eventually executed.
"I just hope that my daughter's not old enough to ask to go to the execution," Holly said. "In law enforcement, I understand that there is a wait."
Facebook: Conner Howard, Record Publishing Reporter