Lee Henley: Avondale homicide victim avoided 1960s death row conviction killed in apartment

CINCINNATI -- The life of Lee A. Henley was one lived by violent means, and ended in the same fashion, according to Cincinnati police and archived media reports.

Henley, 68, was found stabbed to death in his Avondale apartment on Saturday, May 4.

By early Wednesday, a warrant was issued for the arrest of 24-year-old Nigel Armis Pitts, who lived in the same apartment complex as Henley at 3583 Alaska Ave.

Henley’s killing at the Avondale address brought a life born out of murder full circle, as revealed by a Cincinnati Post article.

Henley’s father was executed for killing his mother when Henley was just 1 year old states a story that appeared on the front page of the July 29, 1995 Post.

By the age of 18, Henley was on trial for the brutal 1964 killing of an assistant manager at a King Kwik on Madison Road after witnesses say the clerk refused to sell him beer.

Henley sat on death row for five years after a jury convicted him in 1965 and avoided the electric chair multiple times.

The only thing to save Henley’s life was a witness who stepped forward in 1969 and said the assistant manager grabbed Henley and threw him to the floor before the incident. Ohio Gov. James A. Rhodes commuted Henley’s sentence to life in prison.

Henley was initially paroled by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections in 1982. He would wind up back in jail in 1990 after a parole violation and then again in 1995 after he was convicted of robbing a Fifth Third Bank in Madisonville.

At the time Henley was also charged with trying to hide 1.2 grams of crack cocaine while being questioned for that robbery, according to the Cincinnati Post.

Henley was released from prison 13 years later in 2008 after that conviction, according to the state corrections’ office.

By 2010 Henley successfully completed the terms of his parole and avoided further run-ins with the law.

On Wednesday, a police K-9 unit was in front of the apartment where Henley and Pitts lived, looking for the knife they believe Pitts used to stab Henley to death.

Pitts remains in the Hamilton County Justice Center, charged with one count of murder.

He is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday at 9 a.m.

Officers released little information as to why Pitts might have killed Henley.

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