Donald Ketterer
Donald Ketterer

Donald Ketterer was sentenced to death by the State of Ohio for the robbery and murder of an elderly man. According to court documents Donald Ketterer stabbed to death Lawrence Sanders before robbing his home and stealing his car. Donald Ketterer was arrested, convicted and sentenced to death.

Ohio Death Row Inmate List

Donald Ketterer 2021 Information

Number A465959

DOB 05/31/1949

Gender Male Race White

Admission Date 02/12/2004

Institution Chillicothe Correctional Institution


Donald Ketterer More News

In the late afternoon on February 24, 2003, defendant-appellant, 53-year-old Donald Ketterer, beat and stabbed 85-year-old Lawrence Sanders to death in Hamilton, Ohio. Ketterer then stole money and other property and drove Sanders’s car away.   Ketterer pleaded guilty to burglary, aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery, grand theft of a motor vehicle, and aggravated murder and was sentenced to death.

{¶ 2} According to his confession, Ketterer went to Sanders’s home on Shuler Avenue in Hamilton, Ohio on February 24, 2003, to borrow $200 so he could pay a court fine.   Ketterer claimed that Sanders “swore up and down to [him] that he did not have the money” and asked Ketterer to leave.   Ketterer felt that Sanders “was being very disrespectful,” and he hit Sanders in the head with a skillet three times.   Ketterer remembered thinking, “[I]f I just knocked him out, he would know who did it, so I thought I should stab him,” which Ketterer did.   Ketterer further stated that after Sanders “quit moving,” Ketterer took $60 to $70 out of Sanders’s wallet, searched the house for more money, and found loose and rolled coins.   Then he drove away in Sanders’s 1995 Pontiac Grand Am.

{¶ 3} Mary Gabbard, a friend of Ketterer’s, said that Ketterer was at her East Avenue residence on the evening of February 24, wearing yellow gloves that appeared to have blood on them.   When Gabbard asked about the blood, Ketterer said that he had been in a fight.   According to Gabbard, latex gloves that police found at her residence were similar to those that Ketterer had worn on February 24.   A forensic scientist concluded that DNA extracted from blood on these gloves contained a mixture of DNA that belonged to Sanders and Ketterer.

{¶ 4} Gabbard also reported that around 11:30 p.m. on February 24, Ketterer again stopped by her residence.   Both Gabbard and Ketterer used drugs, often together, and Gabbard had supplied drugs to Ketterer.   At that time, Ketterer told Gabbard that “he had some stuff that he had stolen,” including “crosses, rosaries, costume jewelry” and “a couple hundred dollars worth of change.”   Ketterer wanted “to trade [these items] for crack cocaine.”   Ketterer also  explained that “he wanted to go back over there [to Shuler Avenue] because he had [by mistake] * * * gotten the woman’s stuff and he wanted the man’s stuff.”   The evening before, Gabbard had left her home and had bought cocaine for Ketterer, using $40 that he had given her.   When Gabbard woke up around 5:30 a.m. on February 25, Ketterer left her residence.   In his confession, Ketterer admitted that at around 4:00 p.m. on February 25, he had returned to Sanders’s house for an hour and a half and had stolen silverware and other items.

{¶ 5} Around 7:00 p.m. on February 25, Hamilton police officer Christy Collins impounded Sanders’s abandoned 1995 Pontiac Grand Am, which had struck a garage near East Avenue, where Gabbard lived.   After Officer Collins traced the car, she went to Sanders’s home, but got no response.   At about that same time, Lisa Lawson, a bartender, saw Ketterer at Cindy’s Pub.   When Ketterer got up to leave, he dropped a bag, and “stuff [was] laying all over the floor,” including coins.   Lawson helped Ketterer put the items into another bag, and Ketterer told her, “I’ve got to get out of here.   I have heat on me.”   A cab driver then drove Ketterer over to East Avenue.

{¶ 6} Shortly after 7:00 p.m. that same evening, police officers seeking to interview Ketterer about an unrelated matter found him outside Gabbard’s home and asked him to voluntarily come to the station.   Ketterer was carrying a plastic bag, which he brought to the station.   Around 8:30 p.m., police advised Ketterer of his Miranda rights, which he waived.   Ketterer consented in writing to a search of his person and the plastic bag he carried.   Police found a large quantity of loose change and rolled coins in Ketterer’s possession, as well as papers that mentioned Sanders.

{¶ 7} That evening, police went to Sanders’s home and discovered his mutilated body inside.   The contents of drawers had been dumped on the floor, and Sanders’s pants pockets were inside out.   The back of Sanders’s wristwatch case was loose, and his watch had stopped at 5:18 or 5:20.   A broken skillet was found in the kitchen.   In the alley behind Sanders’s house, police found silverware that Ketterer had dropped.

{¶ 8} Dr. James Swinehart, a pathologist, concluded after an autopsy that Sanders had died of “multiple traumatic injuries,” including “a severe craniocerebral injury with extensive skull fractures,” nine distinct “stab wounds with penetration * * * of the left lung,” and “multiple bilateral rib fractures.”   In addition, “two forks, a knife, and a pair of scissors” had been stuck in Sanders’s face.   Dr. Swinehart also discovered multiple defensive wounds on Sanders’s hands and arms.

{¶ 9} Around 12:30 a.m., on February 26, after Sanders’s body had been found, police returned to the police station.   Police again advised Ketterer of his Miranda rights, which he waived.   Ketterer initially denied recollection of  Sanders’s death.   But during a later interview that morning, Ketterer orally confessed and then signed a written confession.   At 5:05 a.m., Ketterer signed another statement admitting that he killed Sanders.

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