Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Supreme Court to Consider Springfield Man’s Death Penalty Appeal

Among Seven Cases To Be Heard During Oral Arguments

Image of an empty bench and courtroom at the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center

Oil and gas drilling is central to two cases at the Supreme Court in early May. Customer choices for natural gas suppliers and the commercial activities tax credit are other topics on the court’s schedule.

Image of an empty bench and courtroom at the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center

Oil and gas drilling is central to two cases at the Supreme Court in early May. Customer choices for natural gas suppliers and the commercial activities tax credit are other topics on the court’s schedule.

A Springfield man involved in multiple crimes in April 2005 appeals his convictions and death sentence to the Ohio Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Jason Dean and Josh Wade teamed up in three shootings over four days at various Springfield locations. During one incident, Dean and 16-year-old Wade attempted to rob Titus Arnold as he left work. When Arnold ran, Dean tried to shoot him but his gun didn’t fire. Wade then shot and killed Arnold.

Dean was found guilty in 2011 of Arnold’s murder with death penalty specifications. He also was convicted of the attempted murders of six people, aggravated robbery, and weapons charges.

Dean’s attorneys have submitted 15 claims of errors made at Dean’s trial as grounds to reverse his convictions or set aside the death sentence. Among the arguments, they emphasize that Wade, not Dean, murdered Arnold. Because Wade was a juvenile at the time, he received a life sentence. Dean’s death sentence, then, is out of proportion to his role in the crime, his attorneys contend. They also maintain that no course of conduct was proven because the crimes weren’t interrelated, and they question the credibility of testimony from Dean’s former girlfriend about his presence at one of the crimes.

Other Cases Before the Court
Along with Dean v. State, the court will consider two other cases on Tuesday, May 5. Four cases are on the court’s agenda for Wednesday, May 6. Oral arguments begin at 9 a.m. each day at the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center in Columbus. The arguments will be streamed live online at and broadcast live on The Ohio Channel.

In addition to the brief descriptions below, the Office of Public Information today released summaries of each case.

Cases for Tuesday, May 5
Besides Dean, the court will hear these cases:

  • Kuhn v. Kuhn is a divorce dispute about splitting a signing bonus received from an oil and gas lease. Before the marriage, the man bought 24 acres in Cambridge including the mineral rights. After the couple met years later and married, they leased the oil and gas rights and collected a $121,000 signing bonus. The husband argues that he alone owns the property and the bonus was “passive income,” which is not divided in a divorce.
  • The state attorney disciplinary board recommends an indefinite suspension for a Dublin attorney in Disciplinary Counsel v. Lee. The board found that the lawyer, who represents a teacher’s union, established an attorney-client relationship with a teacher who later resigned from her job to move. The attorney didn’t take care of the teacher’s case or properly communicate with her, and her teaching certificate was revoked, the board determined. The lawyer counters that he works for the union and never personally took on the teacher’s disciplinary matter.

Cases for Wednesday, May 6
The court has four cases under consideration on Wednesday:

  • In an appeal of a public utilities case, an affordable energy group protests the elimination of an option for non-residential customers when choosing a natural gas supplier. The state public utilities commission approved the request from a gas company to end the auction-based pricing option and move 14,000 customers to suppliers that set their own rates. The advocacy group contends that the commission didn’t follow state law when considering the proposal and didn’t act in the public interest.
  • A Springfield truck manufacturer asked to spread $27 million in 2004 net operating losses across future tax years through a credit allowed by a state law. After firing its outside auditor, the company had to file revised financial statements in 2007 showing no 2004 operating losses. The state tax commissioner rejected the manufacturer’s requested credit based on the updated financial information. In Navistar v. Tax Commissioner, the company maintains that approval of the tax credit must be based on the financials submitted at the time of the filing deadline in 2006.
  • Corban v. Chesapeake Exploration was submitted to the Ohio Supreme Court by a federal district court because the case involves unresolved questions of state law. At issue is who owns the oil and gas rights below 165 acres in Harrison County. The federal court asks whether the original or amended version of the Ohio Dormant Mineral Act applies to the lawsuit, which claims the mineral rights had automatically returned to the property owner under the original law even though the suit was filed after the amendments took effect.
  • In the second disciplinary case this week, a Solon attorney hired an expert during discovery to retrieve computer hard-drive data from the other side in a defamation lawsuit. The judge was to review the records first but he never received the disk. In Toledo Bar Association v. DeMarco, the attorney disciplinary board recommended a one-year suspension after finding that the lawyer searched the data himself, lied about it to the court, and didn’t defend the data expert who was questioned about the disk’s whereabouts. The attorney responds that the board doesn’t have the full story and requests a stayed suspension.