James O’Neal, Ohio


Updated: Monday, February 22, 2021

James Derrick O’Neal was scheduled to be executed at 10 am local time on Thursday, February 18, 2021, at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility near Mansfield, Ohio. His execution has been rescheduled to August 16, 2023. Sixty-six-year-old James is convicted of murdering his estranged wife, 31-year-old Carol Ann O’Neal, on December 11, 1993, in Cincinnati, Ohio. James has been on Ohio’s death row for the last 25 years.

James had previously served in the Marines. He was dishonorably discharged after going AWOL (Absent With Out Leave). James worked as a dishwasher prior to his arrest, although his work history included frequent failures to show up for work and showing up late.

In September 1993, James and Carol O’Neal moved in together, along with Carol’s four children, which were all from a previous marriage, and James’ two sons from a prior marriage. The house was leased in Carol’s name, with Carol listed as the “tenant” and James and Carol’s children as “occupants.” James’ children were not mentioned.

On December 7, 1993, a physical altercation occurred between James and Carol, resulting in Carol kicking James and his sons out of the house. Carol then filed a domestic complaint and made plans to change the locks on the house. James began living on the street, although it is unclear where his sons went. When he left, James left behind several items of cloths and personal effects.


On December 11, 1993, James returned to the home, furious at Carol for kicking out his sons, planning to “teach [Carol] a lesson.” James broke through the front door and followed Carol into an upstairs bedroom, where he fired three shots at her. One of the shots was fatal. James then allegedly attempted to shoot one of Carol’s sons, however the gun jammed, and James fled the house.


Police found James later that day hiding in a nearby house. He surrendered without a fight and eventually confessed to the crime. A pistol that was in James’ possession at the time of his arrest was identified as the gun that shot and killed Carol. James was convicted and sentenced to death.


This is not James’ first execution date. He was previously scheduled to be executed in 2018, however his execution was rescheduled to 2021, due to ongoing problems the state of Ohio has experienced in obtaining execution drugs. James’ 2021 execution date has been rescheduled to August 2023, for the same reason. Read more about the ongoing challenges Ohio has faced in carrying out executions here.


Please pray for peace and healing for the family of Carol O’Neal, including her four children. Pray for strength for the family of James. Pray that if James is innocent, lacks the competency to be executed, or should not be executed for any other reason, that evidence will be provided prior to his execution. Pray that James may come to find peace through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if he has not already.



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