Reginald Brooks of East Cleveland died just after 2 p.m., ending a nearly six-month break in the use of capital punishment in Ohio, which often trails only Texas in the number of annual inmate executions.
State and federal courts rejected attorneys' arguments that Brooks, 66, was not mentally competent and that the government hid relevant evidence that could have affected his case. The execution was delayed by more than three hours as attorneys exhausted Brooks' appeals. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to halt the execution.
The defense argued Brooks was a paranoid schizophrenic who suffered from mental illness long before he shot his 11-, 15- and 17-year-old sons in the head as they slept at their East Cleveland home on a Saturday morning. Defense attorneys said Brooks believed his co-workers and wife were poisoning him and that he maintained his innocence, offering conspiracy theories about the killings that involved police, his relatives and a look-alike.
Prosecutors acknowledged Brooks was mentally ill but disputed the notions that it caused the murders or made him incompetent. They said he planned merciless killings, bought a revolver two weeks in advance, confirmed he'd be home alone with the boys, targeted them when they wouldn't resist and fled on a bus with a suitcase containing a birth certificate and personal items that could help him start a new life.
Brooks was found competent for trial, and a three-judge panel convicted him.
Defense attorneys argued that prosecutors withheld information that would have supported a mental health defense and led the court to rule differently. Former Judge Harry Hanna, one of the three on the panel, told the Ohio Parole Board he would not have voted for the death penalty if he'd had information from police reports that were provided to the defense more recently.
If a three-judge panel hears a death penalty case, it must vote unanimously for a death sentence under Ohio law.
The parole board recommended that Gov. John Kasich deny Brooks clemency, and he did.
Beverly Brooks, who found her sons dead in bed when she returned from work, told the parole board she believes the killings were an act of revenge for her divorce filing, not the result of mental illness.
Reginald Brooks served more than 27 years in prison and is the oldest person put to death since Ohio resumed executions in 1999.