A 30-year-old Akron man has been sentenced to death for the 2011 deaths of two people and a related shooting that left a man paralyzed in the side doorway of a Grant Street home.
Summit County Common Pleas Judge Paul Gallagher imposed the death penalty Friday morning for Dawud El Spaulding in an emotional, hourlong court hearing.
Gallagher set the execution date for March 3, 2014, but under Ohio law such sentences carry automatic appeals.
Spaulding previously was convicted of two counts of aggravated murder, one count of felonious assault and other crimes in the December 2011 shooting deaths of Ernest “Ernie” Thomas and Erica Singleton, the mother of Spaulding’s 7-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter.
Patrick Griffin was the first victim. He was shot hours earlier that same day. The 2 a.m. shooting left him paralyzed from the neck down.
Some six hours later, after Spaulding fled, he returned to the Grant Street home and fatally shot Singleton and Thomas in the driveway, just moments after they left the steps of Thomas’ front porch.
Eight family members of the victims, most of whom broke down and had trouble continuing until being comforted by Victim Services workers, addressed the court.
Dontae Carter, 35, of Akron, spoke eloquently about his memories of his younger brother, Ernie Thomas.
“You murdered Ernie in the same driveway he played in as a child,” Carter told Spaulding.
Carter said their mother used to reprimand Thomas for riding his bicycle down the driveway, concerned he was going too fast and might wind up in the street.
He misses his brother so much, he said, he still keeps the number as “Little Bro” in his cellphone directory.
“Our souls will forever be stained, and our hearts will never be whole again. And you still sit here without any remorse for what you did,” Carter told Spaulding.
He called Spaulding’s actions “reprehensible.”
Spaulding, who was clad in red-striped jail clothes and guarded by nine sheriff’s deputies and courthouse security commanders, showed no emotion as he sat between his two attorneys at the defense table.
He made no statements or comments to the many family members and friends of the victims, who were seated in the gallery.
“I just want to get this over with,” he told the judge.
When Gallagher asked him again if he wished to address the court, Spaulding shook his head back and forth, saying nothing.
Nattoria Clark, 27, of Akron, also spoke on behalf of Griffin, her fiance. He is now a quadriplegic, she said, and she cares for him daily with his needs and the many medications he must take.
“The first word that he wanted me to say to you is that you are a coward,” Clark told Spaulding. “That’s the word he wanted you to forever remember: You are a coward.”
Every moment Spaulding spends on death row, Clark said she wanted him “to remember what you did to Patrick, to Ernie and to the love of your life.”
Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh said Singleton had filed for a civil protection order and was in hiding from Spaulding when he killed her.
“More than three-quarters of murdered women are stalked by their killers, and this case is unfortunately not an exception. Dawud Spaulding engaged in a pattern of stalking, attacking and terrorizing Erica before he killed her,” Walsh said.
Gallagher, who followed a previous jury recommendation in imposing the capital penalty, made no statements about the defendant’s actions, except telling him that “it will be the sentence of this court that you be sentenced to death.”
Spaulding also was sentenced to 32 years and six months in prison for charges in two other cases of domestic violence toward Singleton, in addition to the remaining charges in his murder trial, which did not qualify for the death penalty.
He would then serve that long sentence, prosecutors said, in the event his death penalty case is overturned on appeal.
Ed Meyer can be reached at 330-996-3784 or firstname.lastname@example.org.