House passes bill to help pay for Pike County death-penalty cases

The Columbus Dispatch | Jim Siegel

A bill aimed at helping Pike County deal with the staggering costs of prosecuting four death-penalty cases resulting from the April 2016 murder of eight people passed the Ohio House on Wednesday with overwhelming support.

“Ohio is simply not prepared to financially assist counties and the public defender’s office with capital cases of this magnitude,” said Rep. Shane Wilkin, R-Hillsboro, a lead sponsor. “It’s simply not financially feasible for Pike County to absorb costs of this magnitude. If we do not act as a legislature and provide a quick solution, the financial hardship could cripple basic services and responsibilities of the county.”

House Bill 85, which passed 93-2, is backed by county prosecutors, commissioners, the Ohio public defender, and Attorney General Dave Yost. Although it is directed at Pike County and the aftermath of the Rhoden family murders involving eight victims ranging in age from 16 to 44, the bill is designed to help any county that finds itself with capital cases expected to cost more than 5 percent of its general fund.

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