Execution is the best option for murderous inmates who continue to kill after being put behind bars, Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell said.
Fornshell offered his observation as he recounted the case against a third former Warren County prison inmate indicted in recent years for murdering another inmate.
Joel M. Drain — indicted this week — joins Casey Pigge and Jack Welninski as inmates with little or no expectation of ever getting out of prison accused or convicted of killing another inmate at a state prison in Warren County.
“If they’re not executed, they will kill other inmates or corrections officers the minute they’re given the opportunity,” Fornshell said. “They’re known killers, and they are known killers behind bars.”
In May, Pigge, 31, had 32 years tacked onto his life in prison without parole term for stabbing a guard 32 times while in prison in Lucasville.
Pigge had already been convicted of three aggravated murders in three counties: his ex-girlfriend’s mother, his cellmate at Lebanon Correctional, Luther Wade of Springfield, and a fellow inmate on a prison transport bus, David Johnson.
Pigge cannot be sentenced to death under Ohio law due to a determination about his mental limitations.
If convicted, Drain — like Welninski — faces the death penalty.
Hannah Kubbins, program director for Ohioans to Stop Executions, said any suggestion of expanding the death penalty was flawed.
“Our death penalty system is so broken. Expanding it would only expand the problems,” Kubbins said.
“Instead of spending time on expanding it, we need to talk about wrongful conviction, we need to talk about victim’s families, we need to talk about the exorbitant cost of death cases versus non death cases, and we need to talk about the trauma on law enforcement.”
Drain, 37, was indicted on charges of aggravated murder, murder while under detention, possession of a deadly weapon and specifications for repeat murder and repeat violent offender.
On April 13, Drain allegedly murdered prisoner Christopher M. Richardson at Warren Correctional Institution, one of two prisons outside Lebanon.
On Tuesday, Fornshell provided details of Drain’s brutal multi-part assault on Richardson after the indictment was reported.
Drain allegedly beat Richardson with the motor from a desk fan, stomped on his throat and kicked a pencil into his head.
“It’s a blood bath in that cell,” Fornshell said.
Richardson was serving a four-year sentence for aggravated arson. He set fire to his mother’s home in January 2017, Delaware County court records show.
Drain is already serving 30 years to life for aggravated murder, theft and felonious assault in Hancock County.
Drain is now in the Ohio Penitentiary near Youngstown, the state’s super max security prison, along with Welninski and Pigge.
Welninski, 33, is scheduled for a two-week capital murder trial in August in Warren County Common Pleas Court.
Welninski is accused of killing cellmate Kevin Nill, 40, of Piqua, less than an hour after they were put together in a cell in at Lebanon Correctional Institution on April 23.
Nill was serving an 18-month sentence for attempted domestic violence involving an adult family member, but Welninski told investigators he decided to kill Nill after being told he was a child molester.
Welninski was serving a 69-year prison sentence after being convicted in Wood County for the 2015 attempted murder of an Oregon, Ohio, police officer.
Earlier this summer, Drain’s alleged prison murder came to light when he wrote a letter to the Columbus Dispatch confessing to the killing and claiming it was captured on video surveillance cameras, the newspaper reported.
“He sent all kinds of letters to all kinds of entities,” Fornshell said, “Different types of outfits, government entities, private entities.”
Fornshell declined to elaborate on the number or recipients.
Fornshell recalled being called to the prison after Richardson’s body was found in Drain’s locked cell. A guard noticed blood after Drain walked from his cell to the downstairs “range” or floor and followed the trail back to the cell.
Investigation determined Drain invited Richardson into his cell “ostensibly for the purposes of smoking K2,” synthetic marijuana.
Fornshell said Drain decided to kill Richardson after he declined to help Drain kill another inmate so he could be transferred to the super-max outside Youngstown.
“None of these defendants had any realistic chance of getting out of prison,” the prosecutor said. “When they don’t get their way … they immediately resort to killing someone so that they can be transferred.”
Fornshell also charged Drain, Pigge and Welninski, and other murderous inmates “are picking out and targeting inmates who they think are easy marks.”
Such murderers should be executed before they strike again, Fornshell said.
Life in prison without parole is sufficient in some murder cases, but in cases such as those involving Drain, Welninski and Pigge, Fornshell said the death penalty should used.
“Give it swiftly,” he added, to limit the chances others die before the sentence is carried out.
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