December 21, 2014

Elyria
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Murder suspect wants in on death penalty hearing

ELYRIA — A Lorain man who could face the death penalty if convicted on charges of raping and killing an Elyria woman in a church bathroom wants to join a motion a county judge is considering on whether to declare the state’s lethal injection process unconstitutional.
In a motion filed Friday, attorneys for Ronald McCloud asked Common Pleas Judge James Burge to allow McCloud to join Ruben Rivera’s efforts to convince Burge that the way the state performs lethal injections is cruel and unusual.
Rivera’s attorneys have been fighting with prosecutors over whether Burge even has the authority to consider the issue because Rivera hasn’t been convicted of aggravated murder in connection with the 2004 shooting death of Manuel Garcia.
The case against McCloud, who is accused of killing Janet Barnard in 2005, also has not yet gone to trial.
Burge said Friday he’s willing to consider combining the cases — if he allows the hearing to go forward, a decision he hasn’t made yet.
“If we’re going to move forward, it’s probably a good idea so we don’t duplicate our efforts since it’s the same issue,” he said.
McCloud and Rivera are the only death penalty cases currently assigned to Burge. Defendants facing the death penalty in front of other judges would have to fight the battle in front of those judges and couldn’t join Rivera’s motion.
County Prosecutor Dennis Will said his office plans to oppose the motion, in part because he doesn’t believe that state law allows one hearing for defendants in separate cases.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.