WARREN - Miriam Fife can easily point out that sometimes the wheels of justice turn rather slowly.
As a crime victim advocate of the Trumbull County Prosecutor's Office, Fife knows it's not her place to criticize the federal courts so decisions will be expedited.
But as a mother of a young boy who was viciously tortured and murdered 27 years ago, Fife is not about to forget things quickly either.
Fife has faithfully monitored every step of the judicial process involving Ohio death row inmate Danny Lee Hill, who was convicted and sentenced to die at age 18 for murdering Raymond Fife, 12, on Sept. 12, 1985, in a field on Warren's southwest side.
Most recently, Fife scratches her head wondering why Hill's latest round of appeals in federal court seemed bogged down while federal Judge John Adams of the U.S. Northern District sorts out appeal litigation over Hill's mental retardation claim.
The claim has taken 10 years to move through the courts, including a lengthy court battle in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court that involved three mental health experts, two of whom determined Hill, 45, was not mentally retarded and eligible to be executed.
That decision was affirmed by the 11th District Court of Appeals, and the case was turned down for hearing by the Ohio Supreme Court, which amounts to an affirmation.
Now attorneys with the Ohio Attorney General's Office are continuing the battle through the federal courts.
Adams has allowed additional depositions from the same experts and prison personnel to complete the court record. Adams has even criticized Hill for delaying the case by filing his own motion to stop the appeals, only to touch off new arguments over Hill's competency.
''Hill now moves again to dismiss all further proceedings in this matter. It is difficult to see Hill's motion as anything other than a delaying tactic. It seems that at every instance that Hill has not been able to contact his counsel or deems some delay in the proceedings to be too long for his liking, this type of motion is filed. As such, the current motion is denied,'' Adams wrote.
The judge added that if Hill wants to halt the proceedings, he must do so through his attorney of record and with properly filed arguments stating a reason.
Hill also filed other court action on his own seeking to delay another death row inmate's execution, so that inmate can testify that Hill is mentally retarded.
The delay tactics only offer more proof that Hill is far from mentally retarded, Fife says.
Even when Adams decides the retardation issue, if Hill is unsuccessful, the case is ultimately headed to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Meanwhile, it's the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals that has put on hold another Hill appeal that argues a coercion claim in Hill's case.
If the federal appellate court finds against Hill on the retardation claim, they still will resume the coercion claim that Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins and his appellate assistant LuWayne Annos say has been ''litigated and re-litigated till the cows come home.''
Constitutional rights and the role of Hill's uncle, former Warren Detective Morris Hill, in Hill's original arrest have cleared legal hurdles at a suppression hearing prior to trial, as well as in the 11th District Court of Appeals, the Ohio Supreme Court and a federal district court, according to Watkins.
And as an employee of Watkins, Fife admitted Friday the delays by Hill are purely designed to drag on until the State of Ohio abolishes the death penalty.
''What do they do then, commute the sentence to life in prison without any chance of parole? That sentence didn't exist when this case was first tried,'' Fife said.
''If they place Danny Lee in the general population and he gets a chance at parole, I'll probably be long gone. My kids will have to fight that,'' Fife said.