CRIME
10/16/2014 02:50 pm ET Updated Dec 17, 2014

Ohio 19-Year-Old Austin Myers Gets Death Penalty In Killing Of Teen Justin Back

By Steve Bittenbender

Oct 16 (Reuters) - A judge in Ohio on Thursday handed down the death penalty to Austin Myers for his role in the killing of an 18-year-old man, making the 19-year-old convict the youngest person on the state's death row.

A Warren County jury found Myers guilty on Oct. 1 of aggravated murder, kidnapping and other counts in the death of Justin Back in January. The jury also recommended execution to Judge Donald Oda.

Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell said Myers never acknowledged responsibility for the crime. Fornshell said Myers and his partner Timothy Mosley spent two days devising a plan to rob Back's house and kill him. They tried to strangle Back before Mosley stabbed him multiple times.

Mosley took a plea deal and testified against Myers. He will be sentenced on Friday and does not face the death penalty.

"We believe the sentence was just based on what he did," Fornshell told Reuters.

However, opponents to capital punishment say it could be decades - if ever - before Myers is executed. All death penalty cases are appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court.

"These are the kinds of cases that languish in the appeals process for years," said Kevin Werner, executive director for Ohioans to Stop Executions.

Ohio's death row has 140 people but the state has not executed anyone since January and there is a federal moratorium on executions in the state, which was among several that botched lethal injections this year.

Ohio said in April it would increase the doses of sedative and painkiller used in lethal injections after an execution in January took about 25 minutes to complete. The state was using an untested combination of drugs after the maker of the barbiturate Pentobarbital objected to its use in executions. (Editing by Fiona Ortiz and Eric Walsh)