Mother starting to lose hope in getting justice for murdered son

WARREN - A mother, who spent more than three decades trying to get justice for her murdered son, says she now fears the man convicted of killing him will be taken off death row.

This week, Miriam Fife, learned that a federal appeals court denied the state attorney general’s request to rehear an appeal filed by convicted killed Danny Lee Hill, who was convicted of killing her 12-year-old son, Raymond Fife.

Hill’s attorneys have filed numerous motions saying his IQ is low and he is too intellectually disabled to be executed and the federal appeals court agreed.

The federal 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in February that Hill, should not be put to death because his I.Q. is too low.

At the urging of Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins, the attorney general’s office, appealed that decision and asked the court to rehear the matter. The court denied that decision Monday.

“It’s not what I was hoping to hear, and it hurts,” said Miriam Fife, 77.

Raymond Fife was 12-years-old when he was killed in Warren. His mother last saw him alive on Sept. 10, 1985 when he left on his bike and headed to a Boy Scout meeting.

Prosecutors and police say Danny Lee Hill, who was 18 at the time, and Timothy Combs, who was 17, attacked, raped, tortured and murdered Fife.

Both were convicted of aggravated murder and several other charges.

Since Combs was a juvenile he was sentenced to life in prison. Hill was sent to death row.

But Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins says the state courts have already heard Hill’s claims and upheld the death sentence and he is once again asking the Attorney General’s Office to appeal this decision directly to the United States Supreme Court.

“The bottom line is that Ohio has nothing to lose and everything to gain with an appeal to the United States Supreme Court in the next 90 days,” Watkins said.

He added that every state court said Hill was not retarded , and the majority of experts that testified at hearings said he was not retarded.

Watkins says he remains hopeful, and pointed out that the U.S. Supreme Court has reversed the 6th Circuit rulings for not respecting state court decisions, and that the Ohio Attorney General 's Office has been successful in many appeals over the years.

**More coverage on this case here**