COLUMBUS, Ohio - A Cleveland man scheduled to die May 28 was granted clemency by Governor John Kasich.
Arthur Tyler was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Sander Leach in 1983. Tyler’s accomplice to the crime had originally confessed to the killing, but later recanted and fingered Tyler for the crime.
Kasich called irregularities in the court proceedings troubling. His decision commutes Tyler's sentence to life with no chance of parole.
"Arthur Tyler's crime against Sander Leach and his family was heinous, and this commutation in no way diminishes that," Kasich said in a statement.
The case doesn't meet their office's current standards for a capital punishment prosecution, Cuyahoga County assistant prosecutor Allan Regas told the board. He said the office wouldn't seek the death sentence in such a case today based on the evidence, which includes what appears to be a lack of intent to shoot the victim.
“I don’t like it,” said Leach’s daughter Laura Bell. “I wrote them a letter. I’m not satisfied."
Tyler's co-defendant, Leroy Head, pleaded guilty for his role in the slaying and was sentenced to life in prison with parole after 20 years for aggravated murder and seven to 25 years for aggravated robbery, according to court and parole board records. He was released from prison in 2008.
Head twice made statements to police that the gun went off while he was struggling with Leach and that it was he, not Tyler, who was responsible for the shooting, according to Tyler's clemency request.
Head recanted those statements and testified against Tyler at the first trial, saying Tyler had threatened his family if he explained what happened that day. Head also testified at Tyler's second trial.
In later years, however, Head denied Tyler had ever threatened him and said he testified at the second trial because a prosecutor threatened to negate his plea deal, according to Tyler's parole board filing.
Head also made several statements to defense attorneys, fellow prisoners and others that Tyler was not the shooter, according to the clemency request.
Tyler was the next person the state planned to execute using a drug cocktail some believe is similar to that which was used in Oklahoma .
On Tuesday, an Oklahoma man sentenced to die was given a lethal injection, but something went wrong. It’s unclear if the cocktail had something to do with his death. As of now, he died of a heart attack.
The ACLU wrote a letter to the governor Wednesday calling on him to halt the remaining nine executions through 2015.
Civil Rights attorney Avery Friedman said he wants the governor to do the right thing.
“I think there is an enormous about of pressure on the governor. If he wants to do the right thing then he has to examine the process."
No word on what the governor’s decision will be at this time.