Warren County inmate gets death penalty for murder

A prison inmate is headed for Ohio’s Death Row after a short trial in Warren County.

Joel Drain, 39, pleaded no contest to the murder charges and specifications filed against him for murdering another inmate in April 2019 and was sentenced to death on Monday by a three-judge panel.

Drain was charged with aggravated murder, murder and possession of a deadly weapon while under detention.

Drain, who was already serving 30 years to life in prison for aggravated murder, felonious assault and theft in Hancock County, was convicted of murdering prisoner Christopher M. Richardson at Warren Correctional Institution.

Drain beat Richardson, serving a four-year sentence for aggravated arson, with the motor from a desk fan, stomped on his throat and kicked a pencil into his head, left a cell in the prison outside Lebanon “a blood-bath,” according to Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell.

The judges accepted Drain’s plea of no contest and sentenced him to die after 5 1/2 hour trial in Warren County Common Pleas Court.

RELATED: Warren County moves toward death penalty plea sought by prison inmate

Drain has been trying to waive his right to trial by jury and enter the no-context plea since February.

Asked about Drain’s reaction, Fornshell said, “Frankly he seemed somewhat disinterested or at least unaffected.”

In February, Judge Donald Oda II declined to accept a no-contest plea during a hearing Wednesday in Warren County Common Pleas Court.

But the judge said he would take steps toward accepting Drain’s plea, leaving his fate to the mercy of the court.

Drain asked Oda to accept his plea — against the advice of his lawyers — in a letter to the court.

Drain also wanted to waive mitigation of his sentence, during which his lawyers would bring a case against his execution - except for being allowed to make his own statement.

In response to Drain’s plea offer, his lawyers filed motions suggesting Drain was incompetent to stand trial, requesting a hearing on this issue and asking for a copy of Drain’s medical records for use in the hearing.

On Monday, he was sentenced to death after both sides made their cases on whether the death penalty was the right punishment.

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