By Dan Sewell
CINCINNATI: A divided federal appeals court panel has ruled that an Ohio death row inmate should get a new trial in the shooting death of a 3-month-old boy.
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision Monday finds that John Drummond was deprived of his constitutional right to a public trial when a judge cleared the courtroom during testimony. Drummond was convicted in 2004 of aggravated murder for the slaying of the baby in a drive-by shooting in Youngstown. Prosecutors said Drummond was a gang member.
The trial judge said there had been disturbances involving spectators, and that some witnesses felt threatened.
The appeals panel’s 2-1 decision said there hadn’t been a substantial reason shown for closing the courtroom.
The attorney general’s office says the ruling is being reviewed.