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Ohio ready to execute killer from northeast Indiana

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press
Tuesday, March 5, 2013 - 6:47 pm

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Only days after his arrest in 1994 for killing a security guard at the end of a multi-state crime spree, Frederick Treesh said in a jailhouse interview that he regretted what happened.

"We never intended to kill," said Treesh, who is from the town of Waterloo in DeKalb County. "It was the drugs. You have to understand, we were on cocaine."

In the nearly two decades since, Treesh hasn't changed his story: As recently as last month his attorneys argued for clemency on the grounds that his cocaine addiction drove his crimes.

Both the state parole board and Gov. John Kasich have rejected the argument, and the state prepared to put the inmate to death on Wednesday. Treesh was convicted of killing Henry Dupree during the robbery of an adult bookstore in Eastlake, near Cleveland, on Aug. 27, 1994.

Treesh, 48, was moved to the state death house at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville on Tuesday morning. His scheduled visitors were a friend, a spiritual adviser and his attorneys.

The inmate had no appeals pending Tuesday that could affect his execution.

Prosecutors say Treesh and a co-defendant committed bank robberies, carjackings, rape, sexual assault and another killing in a crime spree that crossed Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin before ending in Ohio.

After robbing Vine Street News in Eastlake, Treesh shot Dupree after the guard complied with Treesh's order to stand up, prosecutors say.

As Treesh headed out of the store, he also shot the store's clerk as he stood with arms raised, prosecutors say. The part-time clerk, Louis Lauver, survived.

As Treesh and co-defendant Benjamin Brooks fled with police in pursuit, Treesh shot out the rear window of his car and fired at officers, prosecutors say. He also fired at officers at least three times after getting out of the car, they said.

Treesh said at trial he was aiming above the officers, but police say when he was finally apprehended he told police he should have killed them all.

Brooks, 45, is serving 40 years to life.

Treesh's attorneys don't dispute that Treesh shot Dupree but say the gun went off in a struggle for the weapon.

"Hindsight, regret and remorse cannot turn back the clock and cannot return Mr. Dupree's life," they said in a petition for clemency. "What Fred can do and has tried to do is to help prevent others from making the same mistakes he did" by teaching them to avoid drugs.

His lawyers also alleged Treesh's rights were violated during a prolonged interrogation as he was coming down from a drug high, which contributed to his death sentence. They also say Treesh suffers from health problems, including a seizure disorder, that raise concerns Ohio's lethal injection process would cause him suffering amounting to cruel and unusual punishment.

Prosecutors contend Treesh intentionally murdered Dupree and tried to kill the pursuing police officers.

"Treesh has never taken responsibility for his actions," Lake County prosecutor Charles Coulson wrote to the parole board. "Treesh still claims 'the cocaine made him do it.'"

Coulson also noted that courts previously determined Treesh's constitutional rights weren't violated.

Two days before the Ohio shooting, Brooks and Treesh robbed a video store in Livonia, Mich., and shot two people, authorities said. Store co-owner, Frank Danno, survived but his brother, Ghassan Danno, succumbed to his wounds.

Frank Danno said he believed he was shot by Treesh and his brother, who went by Gus, was shot by Brooks. Neither defendant was ever prosecuted in the Michigan killing.

Ghassan Danno, a married father of two young children, was called the backbone of the family in a statement his family provided the parole board.

"Words cannot explain the torment that was created by two heartless, selfish criminals," the statement said.

Deanne Danno, Ghassan Danno's sister-in-law, and his cousin Norton Danno planned to witness Treesh's execution Wednesday.