WARREN - After he read about it in the newspaper, Jerry Heck said he couldn't keep from driving to the Trumbull County Courthouse on Tuesday from his home in Bristol.
''I was appalled,'' he said of the Ohio Parole Board decision to recommend clemency for death row inmate Jason Getsy.
Heck, 54, is especially familiar with the local murder case since he was one of 12 jurors who heard the facts during his 1996 trial in which Getsy was found guilty. Heck was also among the jurors who recommended Getsy be sentenced to death.
Special to the Tribune Chronicle
Jerry Heck, a juror on the Jason Getsy murder trial in 1996, signs a petition Tuesday to uphold his death sentence. The Ohio Parole Board recommended clemency for the death row inmate.
Heck, a mechanic at Denman Tire, drove into town just to sign a petition being circulated by representatives of the Trumbull County Prosecutor's Office that asks Gov. Ted Strickland to turn down the parole board recommendation.
''The governor should let the jury do its job. We struggled over that case. There was crying and hugging. I remember,'' Heck said. ''I feel strongly about this.''
''Getsy met all the criteria for the death penalty. Some of the jurors cried. But they did what they had to do,'' said Heck, while his voice was cracking just thinking back more than 13 years.
''Just because other people weren't given the death penalty isn't enough. The other young men took themselves out of the crime scene. None of them pulled the trigger. His (Getsy's) only remorse was that he got caught,'' Heck said.
''Mrs. Serafino gave those kids milk and cookies when they had worked in her yard. And to do that,'' he said.
He admitted that he had nightmares for three months after lengthy deliberations.
Getsy was convicted of the 1995 aggravated murder in the slaying of Ann Serafino, 66, of Hubbard, and of the attempted murder of her son, Chuck.
Prosecutors said John Santine offered Getsy and two others $5,000 to kill Charles Serafino, a business rival, and any witnesses because of a dispute over Serafino's landscaping business. Ann Serafino was killed because she was at home when the gunmen attacked, authorities said.
Santine was convicted at a trial held in Jefferson on an aggravated murder charge. Santine and co-defendants Richard McNulty and Ben Hudach, who pleaded guilty, were sentenced to life in prison.
Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins, who penned his own protest letter to Gov. Ted Strickland within an hour after hearing to the decision Friday, called the decision a dangerous precedent that could lead to other pared-down sentences or early parole in noncapital murder cases.