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Parole Board Votes No Clemency for Convicted Cincinnati Killer

photo of Robert Van Hook
Van Hook was convicted for stabbing a man in 1985 and stabbed a death row inmate last year.

The Ohio Parole Board has voted 8-1 to recommend that Gov. John Kasich deny clemency to a Cincinnati killer who’s set to be executed on July 18. 

Fifty-eight-year old Robert Van Hook was convicted of stabbing David Self to death after picking him up in a Cincinnati bar in 1985.

Van Hook’s public defenders say he has confessed, accepted responsibility and expressed remorse. But they said execution isn’t appropriate because of the severe emotional and physical abuse he suffered as a child, which they said Van Hook’s first defense team didn’t fully explore.

One member of the parole board agreed, and suggested his mental illness and military service should be taken into consideration.

But prosecutors say the murder was one of the most brutal and bizarre ever in Hamilton County. And they say Van Hook’s behavior suggests he’s not remorseful, noting his long history of violence behind bars, including stabbing a fellow death row inmate last year.

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.