COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Ohio Supreme Court has upheld the conviction and death sentence of a truck driver sentenced to die for killing his boss and another man.
By a vote of 5-2, the court upheld Neyland's convictions for two 2007 workplace killings at Liberty Transportation trucking company in Perrysburg Township outside Toledo during a meeting in which Neyland, a trucker, was about to be fired because of his increasingly erratic behavior.
Neyland shot Douglas Smith, 44, his Sylvania Township branch manager, and the company's corporate safety director, Thomas Lazar, 58, of Belle Vernon, Pa., whom Mr. Smith had asked to attend the Aug. 8, 2007 meeting.
The court's majority rejected Neyland's arguments that the death penalty is unconstitutional and his claim that he was mentally ill at the time of the killings and should not have been found competent to stand trial.
While the court agreed that the prosecution should not have been allowed to present evidence to the jury of other weapons and ammunition not connected to the crime that were found in Neyland's motel room and a storage unit, it found that was harmless error that did not lead the jury to impose a death sentence.
"Nothing in the nature and circumstances of the offenses appears to be mitigating," wrote Justice Sharon Kennedy for the majority. "Neyland shot and killed two officials at Liberty Transportation who were about to fire him. Neyland left notes in his storage unit before the shootings occurred that indicated his intent to carry out these offenses.
"These offenses establish horrific crimes that lack any mitigating features," she wrote. "Neyland's character offers little in mitigation."
She was joined in the majority by Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor and Justices Judith Lanzinger, Terrence O'Donnell, and Judith French.
But Justices Paul Pfeifer and William O'Neill dissented.