Supreme Court rejects appeal of convicted murderer Danny Lee Hill

 May 15, 2024

The Supreme Court has rejected the appeal of death row inmate Danny Lee Hill, an Ohio man found guilty decades ago of raping, kidnapping, and murdering a 12-year-old boy.

Hill has spent years challenging the verdict, to no avail. The Supreme Court upheld a lower court finding that the evidence against Hill was insurmountable.

Supreme Court rejects murderer's appeal

The defendant challenged his conviction on the basis of "newly-discovered evidence" concerning a bite mark on the victim's body.

The bite mark evidence was already considered by lower courts, which found it would have no impact on the overwhelming evidence of guilt.

"We note that if we came out Hill’s way, most convictions involving forensic evidence would never be final," a Sixth District panel wrote.

Hill was found guilty in a bench trial in 1986 after he waived his right to a jury.

At trial, the jury heard that Hill was a registered sex offender before Fife's murder and that Hill was known to bite his victims. A forensic odontologist matched Hill's teeth with bite marks on the boy's genitals.

The murder of Raymond Fife

12-year-old Raymond Fife was found by his father in a wooded area behind a convenience store in Warren, Ohio, on the night of September 10, 1985. The boy, who had gone out riding his bicycle to see a friend, was naked, severely beaten, burned, and had underwear tied around his neck that had been lit on fire. The boy died days later.

Hill's brother testified that he saw Hill wash blood out of his pants on the night of the murder. Hill also voluntarily appeared at the police station two days later, to inquire about a reward for information, and shared details about the case that were not known to the public at the time.

Hill later admitted to police that he was at the crime scene with his co-defendant, the late Timothy Combs, whom Hill blamed for the vicious assault. The two were observed near the crime scene on the night of the murder. One witness said he heard a child's screams; another saw Hill throw a stick back in the woods and Combs zip up his pants.

The stick was later identified as a broken broom-stick handle, which was found to be consistent with injuries to the victim's rectum.

Justice delayed

In 2018, Combs died at age 50 while serving multiple life sentences. Combs was found ineligible for the death penalty because he was a minor, just months shy of 18, at the time of the murder.

Hill is scheduled to be executed in 2026. He has also challenged his conviction on the grounds of intellectual disability. He won a victory on that issue last year when an appeals court ruled that Hill's mind should be re-evaluated.

As the saying goes, "justice delayed is justice denied." The family of Raymond Fife deserves peace.

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