Kerry Perez was sentenced to death by the State of Ohio for a robbery murder. According to court documents Kerry Perez would enter the bar Do Drop Inn Bar and in the process of robbing it would shoot and kill the owner Ronald Johnson. Kerry Perez would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death
Kerry Perez 2021 Information
Gender Male Race White
Admission Date 12/13/2005
Institution Warren Correctional Institution
Kerry Perez More News
The Supreme Court of Ohio today affirmed the death sentence of Kerry Perez for the aggravated murder of Ronald Johnson, who was shot and killed during a March 2003 robbery of a Springfield bar and its patrons.
Perez, who admitted his role in the robbery and shooting, was found guilty of two death penalty specifications: 1) that he killed Johnson during the commission of a violent felony, (aggravated robbery) and 2) that Johnson was killed as part of a course of conduct in which Perez had earlier attempted to kill the owner of a drive-through liquor store when the owner resisted during a robbery attempt.
The Court’s 6-1 decision, authored by Justice Robert R. Cupp, overruled all 13 allegations of legal and procedural error by the trial court that were raised by Perez as grounds to overturn his murder conviction or reduce his death sentence to a term of life imprisonment.
Among the arguments rejected by the Court was a claim by defense attorneys that the trial court should not have admitted into evidence tape recordings of conversations between Perez and his wife, Debra, that were made with Debra’s consent but without her husband’s knowledge during her visits with him at the Clark County jail. Perez contended that admitting secret recordings of what he believed to be confidential communications with his spouse into evidence violated the marital-communications privilege set forth in R.C. 2945.42 and denied him due process of law.
Justice Cupp wrote: “R.C. 2945.42 provides: ‘Husband or wife shall not testify concerning a communication made by one to the other, or act done by either in the presence of the other, during coverture, unless the communication was made or act done in the known presence or hearing of a third person competent to be a witness …’ When Debra testified at trial, the prosecution did not ask her to repeat any statement by Perez … Thus, Perez’s jailhouse conversations with Debra were introduced only through the tape recordings. That circumstance requires us to answer the following question: Does R.C. 2945.42 bar only a spouse’s testimony concerning marital communications, or does it also bar the introduction of tape recordings of such communications, even where the spouse does not testify?”
“Perez contends that admitting the taped conversations was the ‘equivalent’ of allowing Debra to testify to the content of the conversations and was thus equally impermissible under R.C. 2945.42. But R.C. 2945.42 specifies that a ‘[h]usband or wife shall not testify concerning a communication made by one to the other … .’ Thus, on its face, the statute does no more than preclude a spouse from testifying to the other spouse’s statements.”
Justice Cupp noted that courts in some states have interpreted their privilege statutes broadly to bar third-parties from introducing evidence of spousal communications that was obtained from or with the help of a defendant’s collaborating spouse. However, he cited with approval a Michigan Supreme Court decision, People v. Fischer (1993), that interpreted statutory language barring a spouse from being “examined” with respect to spousal communications to preclude in-court testimony by a spouse as a sworn witness, but not to preclude introduction of marital communications into evidence through other means.
“We agree with the Michigan Supreme Court’s analysis in Fisher,” wrote Justice Cupp. “‘In construing a statute, we may not add or delete words.’ R.C. 2945.42 states that a ‘[h]usband or wife shall not testify concerning a communication made by one to the other …’ Like the phrase ‘be examined’ in Michigan’s statute, the word ‘testify’ in R.C. 2945.42 clearly precludes the spouse’s testimony. Just as clearly, it does not preclude ‘introduction of the marital communication through other means.’ Our holding also accords with the fundamental principle of construing privileges narrowly. Privileges are to be construed narrowly because they impede the search for truth and contravene the principle that the public has a right to everyone’s evidence. … Because the jailhouse conversations were not introduced by way of Debra’s testimony, we hold that their admission did not violate R.C. 2945.42.”
Justice Cupp’s opinion was joined by Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer and Justices Evelyn Lundberg Stratton, Maureen O’Connor, Terrence O’Donnell and Judith Ann Lanzinger.
Justice Paul E. Pfeifer entered a separate opinion in which he concurred with the majority’s affirmance of Perez’s death sentence based on the felony murder specification; but dissented from the majority finding of guilt on the “course of conduct” death penalty specification. “In this case,” he wrote, “the murder of Ronald Johnson occurred several months after the shooting at the Beverage Oasis. Although both incidents involved a robbery and the use of masks and guns to effect the robbery, little else binds them. One establishment was a retail store, the other a bar; one shooting was at an owner, the other of a customer; one involved Perez chasing employees, the other did not; one involved an armed victim who shot first, the other did not; even the guns used in the two crimes were different. … In short, there are no particularized facts that suggest that the first and second incidents were part of a course of conduct, especially when the eight-month gap is considered. There is no factual link ‘of time, location, murder weapon, or cause of death.’ The course-of-conduct death specification in this case should not have been charged, should not have been presented to the jury, and should not be affirmed by this court.”
Justice Pfeifer also disagreed with the majority’s interpretation of the marital communications privilege, stating that in his view barring direct testimony by Debra Perez about her husband’s statements to her but admitting into evidence secret tape recordings she made of those same conversations “eviscerates the intent behind the privilege and is in some ways worse than the admission of testimony. If a spouse testifies, the defendant at least has a right to cross-examine.”