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In death penalty appeal, Cincinnati man claims jurors revealed racial bias

KATHLEEN MALONEY
Supreme Court
Public Information Office

Published: February 15, 2019

A Cincinnati man on death row for the murder of his 2-year-old daughter is challenging his convictions and death sentence. He has identified numerous legal arguments in his automatic appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court, which will hear the case next week.

Toddler Taken to Hospital

Glen Bates was living with Andrea Bradley in March 2015 when Bradley took their daughter Glenara to a Cincinnati hospital. The 2-year-old was pronounced dead, and hospital staff contacted the police because they suspected the girl had been physically abused. She was severely underweight for her age and had many visible injuries, including bite marks, cuts, bruises, and a forehead gash stitched together with sewing thread.

Police arrested both Bradley and Bates. The coroner who conducted Glenara’s autopsy concluded that child had been battered over time and that she died of starvation and blunt-force trauma. Glenara’s half-sister testified about her parents’ ongoing abuse of the child. She stated that Bates had held Glenara by the legs and swung her against a wall, which led Bradley to take the child to the hospital.

The jury convicted Bates for the murder and for child endangerment. In October 2016, the trial court imposed the death sentence, and Bates is entitled to an automatic appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court.

Juror Statements About Race Questioned

Among his arguments, Bates, who is African-American, asserts that three potential jurors were placed on the jury despite answers in their questionnaires indicating racial bias. The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed an amicus brief on the issue of racial bias in this case, and the group will join Bates in arguing before the Supreme Court.

Bates points out that one juror answered that she didn’t feel comfortable around “some blacks” and that she “strongly agreed” that people who are black tend to be more violent than other races or ethnic groups. The defense lawyers and the trial court must remove jurors who show actual bias based on race, Bates argues.

Two other jurors checked “agree” when asked whether some races or ethnic groups tend to be more violent than others, but didn’t identify which groups. Bates states that his lawyers were ineffective because they didn’t question these potential jurors during voir dire about this response, and the jurors then were seated on the jury that sentenced him to death.

The NAACP organization wrote in its brief that the jury selection in Bates’ case occurred in a city with a history of racial violence and divisions. The racially biased views of these three jurors have no place in the criminal justice system, the group argues.

The Hamilton County prosecutor responds that Bates focuses on only two of the 131 questions in the jury questionnaire. Noting that one of these jurors identified herself as “Black/African American,” the prosecutor also maintains that the jurors’ answers to other questions demonstrate a lack of prejudice.

Bates Raises Other Issues

Bates also contends that the evidence didn’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was the principal offender or that he purposefully killed his daughter. He also objects to the number of inflammatory photos shown to the jury and to comments made by the prosecutor during the trial.

Oral Argument Details

The Court will hear State v. Bates first on Tuesday, Feb. 19, followed by two other appeals. On Wednesday, Feb. 20, the Court will consider four cases. Oral arguments begin at 9 a.m. at the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center in Columbus. All arguments are streamed live online at sc.ohio.gov and broadcast live and archived on The Ohio Channel.

Case Previews Published

In addition to the information provided in this article, the Supreme Court’s Office of Public Information today released in-depth previews of the cases.

Tuesday, Feb. 19

In April 2011, a Cleveland man was one of three charged with robbing a Cleveland pet store. The man’s two codefendants received eight-year, non-mandatory prison sentences, which made them eligible for early release. The man had a prior juvenile adjudication for felonious assault, which led the court to sentence him to a mandatory prison sentence with no eligibility for early release. In State v. Parker, the man argues a 2016 Ohio Supreme Court decision, which ruled a prior juvenile adjudication can’t be used to enhance sentences for adult offenders, applies to his circumstances, and he should be eligible to apply for early release.

In 1998, Lucas County agreed to issue municipal bonds to construct a nursing home. The county arranged a “trust indenture” with a bank, which acted as the trustee to the bondholders and was responsible for collecting payments. After the nursing home defaulted on the bonds in 2003, an investment adviser encouraged his clients to purchase the nursing home bonds at the discounted price. Operations of the home passed through several hands until the last owner filed for bankruptcy. The bondholders recouped a fraction of the investment. One distressed bond investor filed a class-action lawsuit against the bank. In Paul Cheatham IRA v. the Huntington National Bank, the Court will consider if the right to sue transferred from the original bondholders to the distressed bond buyers.

Wednesday, Feb. 20

A Williams County court informed a man who pled no contest to sexual battery that he would have to register as a sex offender for life. In State v. Dangler, the county prosecutor argues that the court wasn’t required to tell the man at the time of the plea about the community notice and residential restrictions that he would have to abide by as a sex offender. The state only has to substantially comply with requirements to inform defendants of sex-offender penalties, the prosecutor maintains. The man counters that for a plea to be knowing, the trial court must verbally inform defendants of the penalties for sex offenders. The case involves a conflict among Ohio appeals courts.

In March 2016, Lancaster police confirmed a 41-year-old man impregnated his 15-year-old neighbor during a two-year sexual relationship. The man was sentenced to two consecutive five-year prison terms, and the trial court also imposed five years of community control to be served once the prison terms concluded. As part of the community-control conditions, the court ordered the man be assessed for placement in a community-based correctional facility. In State v. Hitchcock, the man argues that based on recent Ohio Supreme Court decisions, he can’t be sentenced to a community-control sentence that runs consecutively to his prison sentence, especially if it leads to confinement in a community-based facility.

The class-action lawsuit at the center of Gembarski v. PartsSource involves allegations that an Aurora medical equipment parts company improperly withheld commissions owed to sales staff. Before the lawsuit was filed in 2012, the company implemented agreements requiring employees to settle disputes through binding arbitration. The representative for the class declined to agree to the process, while some employees who would be part of the class had signed the agreement. The company asserts that employees who agreed to arbitration can’t be included in the class action and that it couldn’t raise this defense until the definition of the scope of the class was approved in 2016.

Ohio electric distribution utilities must implement programs to increase energy efficiency and reduce energy demand during peak hours. The three FirstEnergy companies submitted their 2017-2019 plan to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO). The plan was estimated to cost its customers about $111 million per year to be paid for through a “rider” on customer bills. The PUCO capped the amount that could be spent at 4 percent of the company’s profits, which limited it to charging customers $107 million annually. FirstEnergy and a group of environmental organizations appealed the decision. In In re Application of Ohio Edison Co, the Court will decide if the PUCO was authorized to impose a cap.


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