CRIME: Second Chance

In Ohio, when a jury finds a man guilty of a capital crime, the death penalty is mandatory unless the jury recommends mercy. The first jury that heard Cecil Yankey's trial for the crowbar murder of 71-year-old Leroy Woodland in 1947 couldn't reach a verdict. Yankey agreed to plead guilty, was sentenced to life imprisonment by a one-judge court.

After 2½ years in the Ohio Penitentiary at Columbus (where he spent his spare time studying law), Yankey decided he could do better, asked for a second jury trial on a technicality: since he had been sentenced without a jury conviction,...

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