CLEVELAND (WJW)– The man convicted of murdering 14-year-old Alianna DeFreeze is asking the Ohio Supreme Court to reduce his death penalty sentence to life in prison.
Christopher Whitaker was convicted of killing the teen after abducting her on the way to school in 2017.
Whitaker is currently on death row. Tuesday’s hearing was part of an automatic appeal for death row inmates. The defendant was not in court, but his attorneys argued his sentence should be reduced to life in prison and Alianna’s father said he’s actually fine with that.
“It’s a part of me missing, that I can’t replace… People say that it gets easier, it’s not getting easier. It’s not getting easy… I wish I could, I wish I could say that, but it’s not getting easy,” Alianna’s father, Damon DeFreeze told FOX 8 over the phone.
DeFreeze said he barely eats and can barely sleep, even four years after his daughter’s murder.
“I was contacted by the prosecutor’s office and they wanted to know if I wanted to be present. I didn’t want to be present, like I didn’t want to be present at the court hearings,” DeFreeze said.
Tuesday morning, attorneys for Whitaker argued before the Ohio Supreme Court, asking them to reduce his death sentence to life in prison.
“Christopher Whitaker was going to die in prison. There’s no question about that, the question is the mechanics of that death…. He might die of old age, natural causes, illness, or he might die by execution, but one way or another he was going to die in prison,” said Jeffrey Gamso, Whitaker’s attorney.
During his trial in court, Whitaker admitted he abducted Alianna on her way to school in January 2017. Her body was discovered in an abandoned house three days later. She was stabbed, raped and tortured.
Whitaker was convicted in February 2018 and later sentenced to death. His attorneys argued jurors in the case should have been told he tried to make a plea agreement that prosecutors did not accept.
“I don’t see how his unaccepted offer to plead guilty has any relevance to his character, background, or any mitigating factor whatsoever,” said prosecutor Katherine Elizabeth Mullin.
“Do we take into account how many times he changed his story and tried to evade responsibility until he was caught with DNA and finally had to change his approach?” asked one of the justices during the hearing.
Alianna’s father told FOX 8 he would support the Ohio Supreme Court ordering Whitaker spend the rest of his life in prison, instead of spending decades on death row.
“If they did, I wouldn’t be mad. Let him go and sit in there… Let him think about what he did ’cause there are people in there that don’t like sexual predators so, you better be careful what you wish for,” DeFreeze said.
The Ohio Supreme Court justices are expected to make a decision in the next couple of months.