FAIRFIELD, Ohio -- Nicolas Delaney, the man who shot and killed his former girlfriend in her apartment in October, will not face the death penalty after agreeing to plead guilty to aggravated murder Thursday.
Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said the family of the victim, Samantha Decker, agreed to not pursue the death penalty against Delaney. Delaney accepted a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Delaney, 28, laid in wait for Decker, the mother of his child, and shot the 24-year-old when she entered her apartment at the Villages of Wildwood Luxury Apartments on Wildwood Drive.
Gmoser said Butler County juries have been opposed to the death penalty and he weighed that, plus the wishes of Decker’s family, the cost of a trial and the opinion of his staff, in making a plea deal.
“Clearly, a premeditated murder by one laying in wait is among the worst forms of aggravated murder, but juries have been deferential to the opportunity historically in Butler County to impose life without the possibility of parole in similar, if not worse, cases,” Gmoser said in a statement.
“The decision not to seek the death penalty included a detailed discussion of the issue with the victim’s family and what they would have to endure over the ensuing many years of appeals and delays before such a sentence would be carried out at all. They are in agreement with my decision,” Gmoser said.
See Gmoser’s entire statement below
Decker’s boyfriend, Ian Myer, was with her when the shots were fired and placed the 911 call.
“Me and Samantha had been out,” Myer told the 911 dispatcher. “We came home and found her baby daddy, the one shooting the gun in the house. We found him in the house, he surprised us and started shooting in the hallway.”
When Delaney began shooting, Myer said he ran from the house and didn’t know whether Decker escaped or not.
Myer told 911 dispatchers that he couldn’t count how many shots were fired, but it was more than five.
“It didn’t even sound like he was aiming,” Myer said.
Statement from Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser
The decision to accept a plea of guilty as charged to Aggravated Murder without a request to impose the death penalty was made by me after a careful review of all relevant factors. Before addressing those factors, it must be said that there is no doubt concerning the Defendant’s guilt and the permissible application of the death penalty.
Without question, the crime carries it as an option for a jury to consider at a trial. The decision not to seek the death penalty included a detailed discussion of the issue with the victim’s family and what they would have to endure over the ensuing many years of appeals and delays before such a sentence would be carried out at all. They are in agreement with my decision. Also, while the decision is mine to make, my staff considered the relevant legal criteria for the imposition of the death penalty, aggravating and mitigating circumstances under the law, and arrived at the same conclusion.
Clearly, a premeditated murder by one laying in wait is among the worst forms of aggravated murder, but juries have been deferential to the opportunity historically in Butler County to impose life without the possibility of parole in similar, if not worse, cases. Recently in Middletown a young man escaped death with life without parole after bludgeoning an elderly burglary victim with an axe after a jury was sympathetic to the Defendant’s troubled childhood. And in Fairfield a premeditated murderer of two escaped death with the life without option after a jury was sympathetic to the Defendant’s two young children. In the case of Defendant Delaney, he also leaves behind a young child and the Defendant has no significant criminal history. It is essential in these considerations that the ultimate result be consistent with other cases. If not, there will no doubt be an additional level for appeal of the sentence imposed.
Acceptance of responsibility is also a mitigating factor saving the victim’s family the obvious trauma that trials of this nature surely bring. Although my decision is never based on a trial cost analysis, it can be seen as economically responsible after considering all other factors. Yes, taxpayers will now pay the cost of incarceration in a dangerous place, but that cost over perhaps the next twenty years of appeals would be paid anyway in addition to the continuous litigation expense on the almost endless appeals without an absolute certainty of a result.
The citizens of Butler County should know that I will always consider the imposition of the death sentence when ever appropriate for the worst of the worst as in this case with careful and thoughtful consideration of all factors bearing on the issue.