State of Ohio v. Hersie R. Wesson, Case no. 2009-0739
Summit County Court of Common Pleas
Hersie Wesson of Akron was convicted of aggravated murder and sentenced to death for the February 2008 stabbing death of 81-year-old Emil Varhola and the attempted murder of Varhola's wife, Mary, during a robbery of the couple's Akron home. Wesson waived a jury trial and was found guilty by a three-judge panel of aggravated robbery, attempted murder, and two separate counts of aggravated murder: murder during the commission of another violent felony (aggravated robbery), and murder committed while he was under detention (still serving a term of postrelease control for a prior felony conviction). Wesson has appealed his convictions and sentence to the Supreme Court, advancing 12 claims of legal and procedural error during his trial as grounds for the justices to reverse his convictions and/or reduce his death sentence to a term of life imprisonment.