Death sentence upheld for killer with gender dysphoria claim

Oct 19, 2022, 10:05 AM | Updated: 12:23 pm

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Ohio Supreme Court upheld the death sentence Wednesday for an inmate who argued her attorneys didn’t properly raise in her defense trauma she experienced, including gender dysphoria.

The court ruled 6-1 to uphold Victoria Drain’s conviction and death sentence in the 2019 beating death of Christopher Richardson, a fellow inmate in the residential treatment unit at Warren Correctional Institution in southwestern Ohio.

Drain attempted to enlist Richardson in a plot to kill an inmate Drain believed was a convicted child molester, court records show. When Richardson backed out, Drain killed him to keep him from exposing her plan, records show.

Drain killed Richardson by beating, stabbing and strangling him, according to court records.

Drain had been placed on the unit, which provides inmate psychiatric services, “due to her attempt to self-castrate because she is transgender,” Drain’s attorneys said in a court filing in March 2021.

At the time of the slaying, Drain was serving a 38-year sentence for stabbing and strangling a man to death in Hancock County in 2016. Drain’s execution for Richardson’s death has not been scheduled.

No court has yet considered the “unfathomable trauma” Drain has experienced in her life, said defense attorney Michelle Umana.

“Victoria is more than the crimes for which she is convicted, and she does not deserve to die,” said Umana, supervising attorney in the Ohio public defender’s death penalty department.

In their Supreme Court filing, Drain’s attorneys presented evidence of self-harm dating to childhood because of gender dysphoria, or the distress felt when someone’s gender expression does not match their gender identity.

Warren County prosecutors argued that Drain had “persistently rebuffed” any efforts by her attorneys to present evidence to the three-judge panel weighing her sentence that would have benefited her case. In January 2020, Drain wrote a letter explaining she didn’t want the evidence on her behalf used, prosecutors said.

Drain’s attorneys on her appeal countered that her original lawyers didn’t investigate the connection between her gender dysphoria and her mental health and acts of self-harm.

Ultimately, the Supreme Court placed more weight on Drain’s refusal to allow evidence presented on her behalf.

Justice Sharon Kennedy, writing for the majority, noted that Drain insisted, against her attorneys’ advice, on pleading no contest and made clear she didn’t want 1,900 pages gathered by her attorneys about her life presented to the court.

“Rather, the record shows Drain’s longstanding determination to plead no contest and to have the proceedings over as quickly as possible,” Kennedy wrote.

Justice Jennifer Brunner, the lone dissenting vote, said Drain’s refusal to allow evidence presented on her behalf related mainly to reluctance to present details of a dysfunctional childhood or testimony from Drain’s daughter.

There was significant other evidence available to Drain’s attorneys, Brunner said, “including evidence concerning her gender dysphoria, her mental-health issues and diagnosed disorders, her history of substance abuse, her medical history and the effect that it has had on her mental health and decision-making, and her time spent in juvenile facilities and other facilities.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


(Facebook Photo/Superior Court of Arizona in Yavapai County)...
Associated Press

Arizona judge has cases reassigned following DUI arrest

The Arizona Supreme Court has ruled that all cases currently assigned to a Yavapai County Superior Court judge recently arrested on suspicion of extreme DUI will be reassigned to other judges.
5 days ago
Haitian migrant Gerson Solay, 28, carries his daughter, Bianca, as he and his family cross into Can...
Associated Press

US, Canada to end loophole that allows asylum-seekers to move between countries

President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday announced a plan to close a loophole to an immigration agreement.
8 days ago
Expert skateboarder Di'Orr Greenwood, an artist born and raised in the Navajo Nation in Arizona and...
Associated Press

Indigenous skateboard art featured on new stamps unveiled at Phoenix skate park

The Postal Service unveiled the “Art of the Skateboard" stamps at a Phoenix skate park, featuring designs from Indigenous artists.
8 days ago
(Facebook Photo/City of San Luis, Arizona)...
Associated Press

San Luis authorities receive complaints about 911 calls going across border

Authorities in San Luis say they are receiving more complaints about 911 calls mistakenly going across the border.
14 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Associated Press

Daylight saving time begins in most of US this weekend

No time change is observed in Hawaii, most of Arizona, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Marianas.
22 days ago
Mexican army soldiers prepare a search mission for four U.S. citizens kidnapped by gunmen in Matamo...
Associated Press

How the 4 abducted Americans in Mexico were located

The anonymous tip that led Mexican authorities to a remote shack where four abducted Americans were held described armed men and blindfolds.
22 days ago

Sponsored Articles

(Pexels Photo)...

Sports gambling can be fun for adults, but it’s a dangerous game for children

While adults may find that sports gambling is a way to enhance the experience with more than just fandom on the line, it can be a dangerous proposition if children get involved in the activity.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
Death sentence upheld for killer with gender dysphoria claim