(COLUMBUS, Ohio)— The United States Supreme Court agreed this morning to hear an Ohio murder case. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is seeking review of a lower court’s decision to delay all legal proceedings for Sean Carter, who was convicted for the rape and murder of his adoptive grandmother, Veader Prince.
“I am pleased that the Supreme Court has decided to hear this important case,” DeWine said. “Our state courts have mechanisms in place to address a defendant’s allegations of incompetency. This decision unnecessarily opens the door to decades of delay and collateral litigation in federal court.”
On September 13, 1997, Carter broke into Prince’s home. Prince confronted Carter and asked him to leave. Carter then beat Prince, raped her, and stabbed her eighteen times with a kitchen knife. The next evening, Prince’s daughter and son discovered her dead body in the basement of the home. Carter later confessed to the murder.
A Trumbull County jury convicted Carter of aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, rape, and criminal trespass and the Ohio Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the convictions and sentence in 2000.
In 2002, Carter filed a habeas petition in federal court, seeking to vacate his murder conviction and sentence. Last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit announced that it would not rule on Carter’s petition. The court instead halted all proceedings, determining that Carter suffers from mental impairments that diminish his communication skills and ability to assist his current attorneys.
Attorney General Mike DeWine appealed to the Supreme Court, asserting that the Sixth Circuit is improperly interfering with Ohio’s criminal justice system. The Supreme Court will hear oral argument this fall. DeWine will ask the Court to order the Sixth Circuit to proceed to the merits of the case and rule on Carter’s habeas petition.
A copy of Attorney General DeWine’s petition is available on the Ohio Attorney General’s website.
Lisa Hackley: 614-466-3840
Dan Tierney: 614-466-3640