Melvin Bonnell, Ohio

 

Updated: Monday, January 20, 2020

Melvin D. Bonnell was scheduled to be executed on Wednesday, February 12, 2020, at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility near Mansfield, Ohio. His execution has been rescheduled to March 18, 2021. Sixty-two-year-old Melvin is convicted of murdering 23-year-old Robert Bunner in Cleveland, Ohio, on November 28, 1986. Melvin has spent the last 31 years on Ohio’s death row.

Melvin had a criminal record of aggravated robbery, kidnapping, and carrying a concealed weapon.

Around 3 am on November 28, 1987, a knock was heard on the door to the apartment shared by Shirley Hatch, Edward Birmingham, and Robert Eugene Bunner. Shirley heard the knock and asked who it was. A man’s voice responded with “Charles.” Robert opened to door and Melvin Bonnell entered the apartment, shutting the door behind him.

Bonnell began swearing at Robert and took out a weapon, shooting Robert twice. Shirley observed the shooting and then ran to Edward’s bedroom. Shirley heard two more shots and woke Edward, telling him what happened. Shirley fled the apartment to call the police. Edward went out to the kitchen, where he saw Bonnell on top of Robert, punching him in the face. Edward grabbed Bonnell and threw him out of the apartment.

 

Bonnell was arrested a short time later, after a police chase, that ended with Bonnell crashing his vehicle into the side of a funeral parlor. Two additional officers arrived at the scene of the crash, but left almost immediately to respond to a shooting at an apartment in Cleveland.

 

Upon their arrival, the officers recognized the description of the shooter as the man they had just seen at the accident site. Edward accompanied the officers to the hospital where Bonnell was being treated. Edward identified Bonnell as the shooter. Robert later died at the hospital. Police were able to match the bullets found in Robert’s body, to the bullets in a gun recovered from the chase scene. The gun was also identified as belonging to Bonnell.

 

Melvin Bonnell was convicted of murder and sentenced to death on March 3, 1988. Since his conviction, Melvin has appealed his conviction, claiming he is innocent of the crime for which he has been convicted. In more recent years, Melvin has pushed for extensive DNA testing, which courts have repeatedly denied. Additionally, Melvin alleges that prosecutors failed to turn over evidence to the defense, such as results of testing conducted on evidence and the initial witness statements, which, allegedly, differ from later statements.

 

Due to ongoing problems establishing an execution protocol and obtaining drugs for use in executions, Governor Mike DeWine has issued multiple reprieves for death row inmates, including Melvin. Melvin’s January execution date has been postponed until March 18, 2021. More information regarding Ohio’s execution problems can be found here.  

 

Pray for peace and healing for the family of Robert Bunner. Pray for strength for the family of Melvin. Pray that if Melvin is innocent, lacks the competency to be executed, or should not be executed for any other reason that evidence will be presented prior to his execution. Pray that Melvin will come to find peace through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if he has not already.

 

  

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