Posted by Lisa Strawbridge - email
TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - As convicted murderer Vernon Smith fights for his life in front of the Ohio parole board, the wife of the victim says Smith deserves to die.
Smith will appeal for clemency Thursday in Columbus. Prosecutors say he and two accomplices robbed and killed Sohail Darwish at a Toledo carryout in May of 1993.
"I was actually on the phone with Sahail when they walked in the store," said Charlotte Darwish, Sohail's widow.
Charlotte sat numb through the trial. The couple had a one-year-old girl when he died, and she gave birth to another daughter three months after that.
Now 16 years later, Smith's attorneys are fighting for the governor to commute his death sentence to life in prison. They say he did not intend to kill Sohail, that he showed remorse and has been diagnosed with paranoia, depression and drug addiction.
Charlotte will be at the hearing with photos of her husband and stories that she spends every one of his birthdays at his grave site. Their daughters, now 16 years old and 17 years old, also may speak at the clemency hearing. Charlotte hopes Smith does not receive clemency and will be executed next month as scheduled. "I can't forgive him. I'm not God. I don't have that ability," she said, adding that she believes in an eye for an eye.
It was in the hospital with premature labor that Charlotte was told her husband was dead. Sohail told her on the phone that he'd close the store and be right over. Instead, she says a line of doctors came into her hospital room. "Your husband is Sohail? I said, 'Yeah.' He said he was robbed, shot and killed," Charlotte remembers.
"That's what he got killed for. That's what he got killed over, just working and trying to provide for his family," she said.
If Smith is executed in January, at least one of the daughters says she'll be there to witness it.