COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A condemned man who fatally shot an adult bookstore security guard at the end of a multistate crime spree "gratuitously brutalized" innocent people who posed no threat to him, the Ohio Parole Board said Friday in rejecting the inmate's plea for mercy.
Frederick Treesh, sentenced to die for killing Henry Dupree in a 1994 robbery, had argued he accepted responsibility for the killing but that it was an unintentional consequence of a struggle for a gun while he was high.
The parole board disagreed, ruling unanimously that the evidence showed Dupree was seated when shot and hadn't shown any sign of being a threat to Treesh. The board also said Treesh's decision to shoot a clerk in the face as he left the store suggests Treesh's "murderous intent" when coming to the store.
Treesh and his co-defendant "gratuitously brutalized, humiliated and killed innocent people, most of whom, like Dupree, posed no real or perceived threat to them," the board said.
The decision came just under a month before Treesh's scheduled March 6 execution. Gov. John Kasich has the final say.
Prosecutors say Treesh, 48, and the co-defendant robbed banks and businesses, committed sexual assaults, stole cars, committed carjackings and shot someone to death in a Michigan robbery during a spree that also took them to Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Treesh was sentenced to die in Ohio for killing Dupree in the town of Eastlake on the shore of Lake Erie.
Attorneys for Treesh argued for clemency last week, while prosecutors presented their case against sparing Treesh for a murder they say was intentional.
Treesh's attorneys described him as a cocaine addict who was high during the robbery and is deeply sorry for what happened.
"Hindsight, regret and remorse cannot turn back the clock and cannot return Mr. Dupree's life," they said in a petition for clemency. "What Fred can do and has tried to do is to help prevent others from making the same mistakes he did" by teaching them to avoid drugs.
His lawyers also alleged Treesh's rights were violated during a prolonged interrogation as he was coming down from a drug high, which contributed to his death sentence. They also say Treesh suffers from health problems, including a seizure disorder, that raise concerns Ohio's lethal injection process would cause him suffering amounting to cruel and unusual punishment.
Treesh attorney Adele Shank said Friday she was disappointed in the decision and hoped Kasich would come to a different decision.
Prosecutors contend Treesh intentionally murdered Dupree and tried to kill others, including police officers in pursuit.
"Treesh has never taken responsibility for his actions," Lake County prosecutor Charles Coulson wrote. "Treesh still claims 'the cocaine made him do it.'"
Coulson also noted that courts previously determined Treesh's constitutional rights weren't violated.
Treesh declined to be interviewed by the parole board.
The parole board cited Treesh's refusal to be interviewed as evidence he has not grown or improved as a person in prison.
Treesh's prison behavior is indicative of "a self-indulgent, petulant and immature individual," the board said.
He was never prosecuted for the crimes in the other states, according to the Ohio Attorney General's office.
Ohio's most recent execution was in November, when the state put to death Brett Hartman for the 1997 stabbing and dismemberment of an Akron woman.
Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/awhcolumbus.