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The first case in Ohio and the nation under a new law prohibiting the execution of people with serious and persistent mental illness has been decided in Franklin County,

David Braden will be removed from Death Row following a joint agreement between the office of Franklin County Prosecutor Gary Tyack, attorney Kathryn Sandford of the Ohio Public Defender’s Office, and Dublin attorney Steven M. Brown.

Braden will spend the rest of his life in prison with no possibility of parole.

The reason for the action is Braden was diagnosed to have “serious mental illness,” specifically paranoid schizophrenia with delusions when he committed two murders in Columbus in 1998. He was sentenced to death for killing his girlfriend, Denise Roberts, and her father, Ralph Heimlich.

House Bill 136, a new state law long advocated for by the National Alliance for Mental Illness Ohio, was signed by Gov. Mike DeWine on April 12, 2021. The law prevents the state from executing someone who had a persistent mental illness at the time of the crime “that significantly impaired the person’s capacity to exercise rational judgment in relation to the person’s conduct.”

Psychiatrists who examined Braden told the court he was “intimidating, decompensated under stress, and had delusions of being a prophet of God.” He is now being treated in prison with antipsychotic medications.

Ohio is the first state in the U.S. to pass a law banning the execution of the mentally ill. However, similar legislation is pending in other states, including Florida, which is modeling its proposal on Ohio’s law.

Read more about this case on The Columbus Dispatch website at