Rutledge awaiting verdict in death penalty case

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The father of a man facing the death penalty testified in his defense on Wednesday asking for mercy.

Lincoln Rutledge, 45 was convicted for two aggravated murder counts with specifications, meaning the death penalty applies. He was convicted in the shooting death of a Columbus police Officer Steven Smith.

His father Keith along with Lincoln’s ex-wife and several of his co-workers at OSU’s Internet Security where Rutledge had worked asked jurors to spare his life. Rutledge could be sentenced to death, life without parole or life without parole for 25 to 30 years.

Rutledge killed SWAT Officer Smith after he barricaded himself in his Clintonville home in April of 2016. On Tuesday a psychologist who examined him said he suffers with delusions and severe depressions and said he did not believe it was the police at his door.

Co-workers at OSU and his ex-wife said they tried to get him mental help including a probate warrant, but he fled the state.

A former co-worker and boss of Rutledge said he called her before the killing, professing his one-sided love for her. She told him it was not mutual and reported the incident to OSU Human Resources. She broke down on the stand talking about trying and failing to get him help.

“We had tried everything in our power to get him help, and our biggest fear, excuse me she said while wiping away tears. We were worried that he would hurt someone else, so to shoot Officer Smith was tragic,” Helen Patton said.

Rutledge’s ex-wife says although he left her, set her house on fire and murdered a police officer, she asked the jury to spare his life.

“As a woman who has loved him and was hurt by him, he should not have his life ended, he just kind of got lost,” said Jennifer Young.

Keith Rutledge, Lincoln’s father was the last to testify before both sides gave the jury their closing statements.

“For 44 years my son was a good human, husband, son, friend,” said Keith Rutledge. “What I’d like you to think about, what if he were your son?”

The defense rested their case and the prosecution showed the jury a 19 minute video jail interview with Rutledge the day after he was arrested for shooting Officer Smith. He told Columbus Fire Investigator Mike DeFrancisco he feared for his life.

Franklin County Judge Mark Serrott gave the jurors instructions before they started deliberating and they could work late into the evening before being sequestered in hotel rooms for the night.

Both sides made one last plea to jurors in their closing statements.

“Lincoln Rutledge suffers from mental illness, he suffers not only from delusional disorder but from anxiety, he suffers from depression. I believe that should be a mitigating factor,”  said Jeff Liston, Rutledge’s defense attorney.

Dan Hogan, with the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office, first read out Officer Smith, and two other Columbus SWAT officers who were shot at, and asked the jury what they were doing that night while those officers were in the cold trying to get Rutledge to come out of his apartment.

“The decisions that you make, you need to believe that it will be carried out. Nothing should minimize your responsibility in this case, nothing,” Hogan said.

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