LUCASVILLE, Ohio – Ohio on Tuesday executed a condemned killer who maintained that he was innocent of stabbing a woman 138 times, slitting her throat and cutting off her hands.
The time of death for Brett Hartman was 10:34, said warden Donald Morgan of the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville.
“I’m good, let’s roll,” Hartman said in his final words.
Hartman acknowledged that he had sex with Winda Snipes early on the morning of Sept. 9, 1997, at her Akron apartment. He also said he went back to Snipes’ apartment later that day, found her mutilated body and panicked, trying to clean up the mess before calling 911.
But Hartman said he didn’t kill her, a claim rejected by numerous courts over the years.
Hartman came within about a week of execution in 2009 before federal courts allowed him to pursue an innocence claim. When that claim failed, Hartman had a new date set last year, but that was postponed because of a federal lawsuit over Ohio’s execution policy.
The Ohio Parole Board unanimously denied Hartman’s requests for clemency three times, citing the brutality of the Snipes’ slaying and the “overwhelming evidence” of Hartman’s guilt.
Hartman’s attorneys have long said that crucial evidence from the crime scene and Snipes’ body has never been tested, raising questions about Hartman’s innocence. The evidence included fingerprints allegedly found on a clock and a mop handle. Hartman also argues the evidence could implicate an alternate suspect.
The attorneys argued that if Hartman’s innocence claim was not accepted, he should still be spared because of the effects of a “remarkably chaotic and nomadic early childhood,” including being abandoned by his mother and left with an aunt on an isolated Indian reservation.
His lawyers also said Hartman’s behavior in prison had been exemplary and showed he was a changed man. They cited his devotion to religious studies, his development as an artist and community service projects in prison.
The state opposed these arguments, citing the strength of the evidence and the fact that courts have repeatedly upheld Hartman’s conviction and death sentence. The state also said that Hartman refused to take responsibility and show remorse.