Victim's family hopes for closure

Thursday, June 5th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

McALESTER, Okla. (AP) -- The family of his 14-year-old victim believes Kenneth Chad Charm will leave this world in a painless way.

One drug will stop his breathing and another will stop his heart, vastly different from the way Brandy Crystian Hill died.

"I feel that Kenneth is having an easy death considering the options he gave my niece Brandy, whom he raped and brutally murdered," Johnnie Lewis, Hill's aunt wrote in a letter last month to the state Pardon and Parole Board.

Charm, 37, is to be put to death by injection Thursday for raping and killing Hill in July 1993. The Supreme Court this morning rejected two petitions to block the execution, but Charm's attorneys are expected to continue efforts to stop it.

Hill, an honor student who wanted to become the first female black president, was visiting her father for the summer when she was lured into a car with Charm and co-defendant Ron Jessie.

On a remote Comanche County road, the men raped, strangled and bludgeoned the girl to death with a sledgehammer.

"Do me a favor and tell K.C. he is going to get what he deserves," Hill's stepbrother DeShawn Jude wrote in a letter. "Finally my family and I can have some closure to our lives."

Charm, who has an IQ of 75, claims to be mentally retarded and is asking the Supreme Court to review his case and stop the execution.

His execution is the first case in Oklahoma since the Supreme Court ruled that such executions are unconstitutional. The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that people with an IQ of 70 or below shouldn't face the death penalty. Charm's court-appointed attorneys claim IQ tests have a margin of error of plus or minus 5 points.

The state Pardon and Parole Board last month unanimously voted to deny Charm clemency.

Death penalty opponents have rallied against Charm's execution.

"Here's really the rub of this issue," said David Elliot, spokesman for the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. "The procedure established in Oklahoma covers only those people who are facing trial. If it doesn't cover everybody currently on death row, then Oklahoma is in noncompliance with the Supreme Court decision."

Hill lived with her mother in Michigan and was visiting her father, Michael Hill, in Lawton. Her parents divorced when she was 2.

"In a lot of ways I feel like I lost my daughter because I was trying to be a dad," Hill testified during Charm's trial. "So many men are trying not to be a dad. And I was trying to be a dad."

On the day of the murder Charm and Jessie had visited Michael Hill. The two men left the house, picked up Brandy Hill, raped and killed her and then returned to the Hill home to establish an alibi, court records show.

During an interview with investigators, Charm recounted how he and Jessie repeatedly raped the girl, then Jessie tried to strangle her by wrapping a piece of a bed sheet around her neck and pulling it tight until blood oozed from her mouth.

Hill continued to move, and Jessie reached for the sledgehammer in the trunk of his mother's car.

Jessie, who was 16 at the time, received a life sentence without parole.

Charm testified that he and Jessie both delivered blows that killed the girl.

"If she wasn't dead, we killed her," Charm told investigators. "If she wasn't dead from the impact of the blows, she was dead from being left there. So what difference does it make?"

Charm has requested a final meal of 12 pieces of fried chicken, two large orders of french fries, two ears of corn on the cob, ketchup, six hot peppers and hot sauce.