Judge rejects bid to overturn man's death sentence

Gorman rules against Davel Chinn's claims

Davel V. Chinn lost a bid this week to overturn his conviction and death sentence in the 1989 fatal shooting of Brian Jones.

Chinn, now 43, is one of three men from Montgomery County on Ohio's death row.

Chinn claimed through new attorneys that his court-appointed lawyers at trial failed to detect that his chief accuser, a 15-year-old co-defendant, was moderately retarded. Chinn said they could have undermined the youth's testimony through experts in mental retardation.

Judge Barbara P. Gorman of Montgomery County Common Pleas Court rejected the claim in a ruling made public Friday.

Experts "would have contributed little, if anything, to the jury's deliberations and certainly would have made no difference to the outcome of this case," Gorman said in a 22-page opinion.

Gorman said Chinn's Ohio public defenders filed other objections too late. State defenders received juvenile court records in 1993 that showed the 15-year-old witness, Marvin Washington, had an intellect in the bottom 1 percent stemming from a birth deformity. But the defenders did not raise the issue until 1997, Gorman said.

At a Feb. 10 hearing before Gorman, a state juvenile detention worker testified that after Chinn's 1989 trial, Washington quickly improved his elementary reading skills, earned a high school certificate and graduated at the top of his class of special students.

Washington's testimony - that he and Chinn captured Brian K. Jones, 21, in his car off South Ludlow Street - sealed Chinn's conviction. It happened the evening of Jan. 30, 1989, and Washington, then 15, testified that he drove Chinn and Jones to Jefferson Twp., where Chinn fatally shot Jones.

Four years later, Washington and his girlfriend, Wendy Cotrill, were executed in a Dayton gravel yard - two of the six victims in the 1992 Christmas killings rampage. Marvallous Matthew Keene is on death row for five of the slayings.

* Contact Rob Modic at 225-2282 or e-mail him at rob_modic@coxohio.com

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