A jury has recommended that an Akron man who executed four people during a robbery last year should spend the rest of his life in prison.
The Summit County jury announced its verdict Friday afternoon. The panel opted against a death sentence for Derrick Brantley, 22, following about 10 hours of deliberations over two days.
Judge Mary Margaret Rowlands will sentence Brantley at 10 a.m. July 3.
Families of the four victims said after the verdict was read that they were braced for a death sentence, but they accept the jury’s decision that bars Brantley from ever leaving prison.
“His judgment day is still coming when he meets our maker,” said April Roberts-Gilbert, the mother of victim Ronald Roberts. “Life without parole is good enough for me. That’s fine. He’s never going to get out.”
Kem Delaney, whose son was killed during the robbery, said he long ago put the outcome of the case in the hands of God.
“I’m not an eye-for-an-eye guy,” he said. “The Summit County Courthouse, the Ohio justice system, served well for me. ... As I stated before, God is in control of everything, and I turned this over to God as soon as it happened. I’m happy with the verdict.”
John Greven, who defended Brantley with fellow attorney Nathan Ray, said he believes jurors in Summit County are sending out messages about the state’s use of death as punishment.
Greven pointed out three death-penalty cases this year that all ended with jurors recommending life sentences rather than execution. County prosecutors have six other death-penalty cases pending.
“I think the people in Summit County are realizing that murder is wrong. Even when it is sanctioned by the state, it doesn’t make it less wrong,” Greven said.
Statewide, the number of inmates on death row has been slipping slowly as fewer death sentences and more life sentences are handed down.
There are now 138 men and one woman awaiting execution in Ohio. The number is down about 30 percent from 2000, when Ohio had 201 death row inmates.
Jurors could not be reached for comment. However, they spoke briefly to attorneys afterward and said that Brantley’s poor upbringing — it included the murders of his father and stepfather — factored into their decision.
The jury’s verdict means Brantley is given only one state appeal with a court-appointed attorney. He will be housed in the state’s general prison population.
Had he received a death sentence, he would have received public attorneys for life with a chance to file appeals at the state and federal levels. He would have been housed alone on death row.
The same jurors who recommended life in prison found Brantley guilty last week of multiple counts of aggravated murder for fatally shooting Ronald Roberts, 24, Kem Rashad Delaney, 23, Maria Nash, 19, and Kiana Welch, 19.
All four were found April 18, 2013, inside a Kimlyn Circle townhouse in the Chapel Hill area of North Akron. All suffered multiple gunshot wounds to the head in slayings that prosecutors equated to executions.
Brantley also was convicted of aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary and kidnapping. He did not testify during his trial, nor did he address jurors during the sentencing phase of the trial.
Prosecutors said Brantley and a co-defendant targeted the residence in the early morning hours to rob Delaney and Roberts of heroin and cash.
The women arrived at the townhouse before the robbers left and entered what prosecutors termed a “death trap.”
Co-defendant Deshanon Haywood, 22, is scheduled for trial next month. He also faces a death sentence, if convicted.