Ahmad Fawzi Issa, right, sits in Hamilton County Court Thursday 30 May 2019 in Cincinnati. Issa, 49, who was sentenced to death in 1998, appeared before a county judge after a federal appeals court threw out his conviction. Issa pleaded not guilty to aggravated murder in Hamilton County and will remain locked up without bail pending resolution of his case. Colleges now from Ohio death row after more than 20 years, since his conviction was thrown back in the court and probably facing deportation to his native Jordan. (AP Photo/Dan Sewell)
CINCINNATI – prosecutors and lawyers for a Jordanian man who over the past two decades on Ohio’s death row before his conviction was tossed said Thursday that they are trying to work out an agreement to ensure that its new process.
Ahmad Fawzi Issa, 49, in prison stripes and handcuffs, pleaded not guilty to aggravated murder in Hamilton County court. He remains jailed without bond. While the murder charge may be dropped, lawyers said Issa will be facing likely deportation to his homeland after this case is resolved.
Issa was convicted in 1998 and sentenced to die for allegedly arranging the 1997 slaying of a Cincinnati convenience of the owner of the store. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year threw out his conviction, ruling that his constitutional right to confront witnesses against him was violated and that hearsay testimony was used to convict him.
Last week, the U. S. Supreme Court rejected Ohio’s appeal and gave the state six months to try again Issa or release him.
Prosecutor Mark Piepmeier said that it would be difficult to take the case to trial again after so many years, and that at least two of the original police investigators have died. He also said three persons charged in the case, Issa, the so-called middleman in a contract killing, was given the strongest sentence in the death of the owner of the store Maher Khriss.
“The least morally culpable, in my eyes, is the man who received the death penalty,” Piepmeier told The Associated Press. “It’s kind of unfair.”
Judge J. Patrick Foley III scheduled a July 18 hearing for an update on the case.
“Now, he is fairly positive and upbeat,” said Issa’s lawyer Timothy McKenna, who added that he still has the revision of the original case.
Khriss’ wife, Linda, was charged with hiring someone to kill him, but was acquitted on her trial. Andre Miles was convicted of two counts of aggravated murder of Maher Khriss and his brother Ziad Khriss in the parking lot of Maher’s shop in the early morning hours of Nov. 22, 1997.
Miles is where life in prison without parole. Miles refused to testify at Issa’s trial, in that other witnesses said the Km said that he was hired by Issa to kill the owner of the store.
The court of appeal said Miles’ statements are the only direct evidence of which Issa in a murder for hire.” The ruling of the court also pointed out that Miles’ friends said he often bragged and lied.
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