News Home
Quick Bites
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
On AirNewsClassical
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Greater Akron Chamber

Meaden & Moore

For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )

Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Courts and Crime

Seven minutes changed everything, but what changed Ashford Thompson?
Ohio Supreme Court delves into the question of why Thompson killed a Twinsburg police officer and what counts as mitigation

Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
Justice Paul Pfeifer says the courts have long been dealing with questions of whether a troubled or clean past counts as mitigation.
Courtesy of Ohio Supreme Court video
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

From the time Ashford Thompson shot and killed Twinsburg patrol officer Joshua Miktarian nearly six years ago, the question of “why” keeps resurfacing. The newest group to raise that question is the Ohio Supreme Court, which heard arguments today on Thompson' appeal of his death sentence. WKSU' M.L. Schultze says a good part of the justices' extensive questioning focused on why Thompson turned into a killer.


LISTEN: A question of motive and mitigation, abbreviated version

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (1:19)

LISTEN: A question of motive and mitigation

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (4:07)

Ashford Thompson’s attorney, Rachel Troutman, says nothing before July 13, 2008 suggested the then-23-year-old Thompson would shoot Joshua Miktarian four times in the head, leaving him dead in the road.

“He was a man who was identified as a nurse, a caretaker, somebody who only had a licensed concealed carry so that he could bring his gun with him to do home health care in bad neighborhoods. This was not a man who had been convicted of anything violent. He was deeply religious, and he was young and he was a nurse who had dedicated his life to taking care of others. In seven minutes, his life got out of control, and officer Miktarian was murdered.”

For which Thompson is on death row – something Troutman was arguing he does not deserve.

But the state’s attorney, Richard Kasay, argued alcohol and anger may have played a role, changing the person people thought Thompson was.  And whatever Thompson was before the traffic stop that morning, Kasay noted, he fled it as a cop killer.

“The argument is that this is a law-abiding religious, mild-mannered peaceful nurse. And maybe before that night, he was. But he didn’t act in character when there’s evidence that what was going on in Mr. Thompson’s psyche was not what others perceived him to have.”

Questions of escalation and remorse
The defense attorney,Troutman, suggested what turned Thompson that night was fear when the traffic stop by Miktarian – and Miktarian’s dog in the cruiser -- started to get out of control. Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor challenged her.

“In Ashford Thompson’s mind, he was pulled over for a noise ordinance violation, something that is not an arrestable offense, and all of the sudden he ended up on the hood of a police car and he was handcuffed. And he saw the police officer reaching for what he thought was a gun. He reached for his taser. …”

“Was he resisting arresting arrest.”

“… Absolutely.”

“So the police officer is trying to cuff him and he reaches for his taser.”

“Yes, your honor.”

"… So your client was resisting arrest … Rather than cooperate and sort the whole thing out, he ends of killing the police officer.”

Why not more consideration?
Troutman wasn’t the only one pressed by the justices.

Justice William O’Neill pressed Kasay on why, during his trial, the questions of Thompson’s feelings of duress that night – and of remorse long afterwards – were quickly dismissed.

“It seems to me that the remorse of the defendant is very clear here, and the trial court said, ‘Yeah, well, but he fled the scene so therefore there is no remorse.’ I’m having trouble with that.”

“That was the trial court’s reasoning; Mr. Thompson did express remorse in his unsworn statement. The trial court’s evaluation … that it was entitled to little if any weight was (based on) the fleeing after murdering the officer.”

What mitigates the horrors of a crime?
The facts of the case also raised a much broader philosophical question in the mind of Justice Paul Pfeifer, who as a state lawmaker reintroduced the death penalty to Ohio -- and who has since become an opponent.

Key to getting a death sentence in Ohio is a stage called mitigation, in which judges or jurors weigh whether the life lived before a crime – and other factors – outweigh the horror of the crime itself. To Pfeifer, Thompson’s clean record is somewhat of a conundrum.

“Should it be mitigating that one had a lousy childhood, abusive parents, in-an-out of institutions as a youth. Would that be mitigating? Or would it be more mitigating that one brought up in the same neighborhood stayed out of trouble, served his country, went to church, had a profession?”

 Whatever the answer the court reaches, the justices seemed to share one sentiment throughout the arguments. The case of Ashford Thompson and Joshua Miktarian is tragic.

Listener Comments:

"My baby didn't mean to shoot him four times in the head." Let's keep lowering the bar for the sake of worms.

Posted by: Scott (Akron) on November 17, 2014 2:11AM
he took a life now he has to give his life, I don't care what kind of life he has had. you make the move to kill someone now you have to pay the price.

Posted by: George Adamrovich (Ohio) on November 13, 2014 3:11AM
collect and distroy all guns owened by common people. Heavy drug controll. Teach Moral and ethics to children, young people.

Forgiveness, for this poor man. his life has already turned to hell.

Posted by: Aklil (London) on October 27, 2014 7:10AM
Homicidal maniacs don't shoot people multiple times once hit, use the bullets in someone else. Scared people shoot multiple times.

Posted by: Neil (Florida) on October 24, 2014 5:10AM
It doesn't matter who you are.

What matters is the crime you committed.

Posted by: Observer (Somewhere) on October 23, 2014 2:10AM
He shot the police officer 4 times out of panick. He had been pulled over several times before and never encountered this officers behavior. They way the family of the slain officer spoke to this young man was horrific, no sensitivity AT ALL to what duress Ashford might have been experiencing. This terrifies me

Posted by: Misty (Fairborn) on September 23, 2014 12:09PM
Fry that cop killer. Bottom line.

Posted by: Steve (Some place else.) on September 13, 2014 5:09AM
There is definitely more to this situation. I went to school with this guy and this just isn't in his character. He was a cool dude.

Posted by: Nah Guy (Bedford Heights) on September 12, 2014 10:09AM
He shot the guy four times in the head. I have never been that drunk or mad, and I have been through it. Shoot a guy once is bad, maybe a mistake, shoot a guy four times in the head and you are a homicidal killer. Something in you isnt right.

Posted by: Dan (Boston) on July 21, 2014 5:07AM
Add Your Comment


E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook

Stories with Recent Comments

Pluto: The Browns split from Manziel is long overdue
Get Brock Osweiler from the Denver Broncos! He's fantastic and seems like a great person.

Democratic Senate hopeful P.G. Sittenfeld pushes for local gun control
That makes no sense at all... why not let cities determine driving codes as well? Maybe Cincy want's folks to drive on the left side of the road. What could go ...

Exploradio: Autism in the workplace
I would love to get more information re: Autism on The Town and other such programs in Northeast Ohio. Thanks!!

Human trafficking cases rise in Ohio
It is about time this is presented to proceed with a plan of protect our youth.And very necessary to inform communities through school, churches ...

Fermented food company aims to preserve Cleveland's farm-to-table movement
This is terrific! I make my own sauerkraut and consider it vital to good health. Well done, I wish you all success.

Ohio doctors get new guidelines for prescribing certain painkillers
I would gladly smoke pot to get off pain killers but its not legal.It would save the hassle of doctor visits for pill counts,pee tests,blood tests,driving to pi...

Ohio unemployment cuts are nearing a Statehouse vote
What about those that are laid off seasonally? My husband has been employed by the same company for 26 years and has been laid off (for the last 17) mid-Januar...

Ban on microbeads is a big step in fighting plastic pollution
What a bunch of liberal "so open minded their brains fell out" tree huggin yuppies. Professing to be wise they became fools.

Who's on -- and left off -- Ohio's medical marijuana task force?
Biggest joke everm these people are evil they know marijuana is harmless they rigged the polls last nov everypne kmows it

Dayton 'Black Lives Matter' protesters to appear in court today
Police to fast with the trigger finger and not the brain.A lot of police officers out here judge by color first instead of accessing the situation first. If a p...

Copyright © 2016 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University