YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Ohio’s Supreme Court upheld the conviction of a Youngstown man for a rape and homicide that happened more than 30 years ago.
Justices voted six-to-one Thursday morning to affirm the aggravated murder verdict against Benny Adams. He was tried in 2008 for the death of Youngstown State University student Gina Tenney in 1985 after DNA evidence linked him to the crime.
Adams had filed an appeal with the Seventh District Court of Appeals to reopen the appeal of his conviction based on his claim that his appellate counsel was ineffective, because he said they failed to challenge errors made by his trial counsel. Adams said his rights were violated because he was not able to confront and challenge the testimony of the coroner who completed the autopsy, because a substitute coroner was presented as the state’s expert witness.
The court found that when Adams filed his objections, the court had ruled that an autopsy report was considered a “business record” and could be admitted as evidence, even if the original author wasn’t present.
Adams also listed several other complaints, including that the evidence against him wasn’t enough to lead to an aggravated murder conviction, but the Court ruled that sufficient evidence had been presented.
Last October, justices threw out a burglary conviction from that case, meaning that the death penalty sentence imposed at the time had to be thrown out as well. That death penalty is no longer and option, due to the U.S. Constitution’s double jeopardy clause.
Adams now faces a re-sentencing, likely to a life prison term. That re-sentencing is set for June 6.