Chad Doerman, accused of executing sons, wants death penalty dropped

Posted at 4:09 PM, May 2, 2024 and last updated 2:02 PM, May 3, 2024

BATAVIA, Ohio (Scripps News Cincinnati) — The attorneys for Chad Doerman, who is accused of shooting his three young sons to death in 2023, have filed a motion asking the death penalty be dropped against their client, citing “serious mental illness at time of offense.”

Chad Doerman appears in court in a protective vest

Chad Doerman, wearing a protective vest, appeared in court. Doerman is accused of killing his three sons, ages 3, 4 and 7. (Scripps News Cincinnati)

The motion is asking Clermont County Judge Richard Ferenc to find that Doerman is ineligible to receive the death penalty. An initial hearing on the motion will be held Friday afternoon, while Doerman’s attorneys agree to submit an expert report supporting Doerman’s mental illness by June 3, according to the motion.

The motion says two experts have already examined Doerman and found that he suffered from a severe mental illness the day he allegedly pointed a loaded Marlin Model .22 rifle at his children and pulled the trigger. However, those experts did not agree on whether Doerman knew what he was doing was wrong that day.

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In Ohio, people proven to have suffered from a serious mental illness at the time they committed a crime cannot be executed by the state; however, they can be given a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Doerman faces 21 separate charges tied to the allegations that he shot and killed 4-year-old Hunter, 7-year-old Clayton and 3-year-old Chase execution-style on June 15, 2023. He is charged with nine counts of aggravated murder, eight counts of kidnapping and four counts of felonious assault.

In March, Ferenc ruled Doerman’s Miranda Rights had been violated by the officers who interrogated him. That interrogation, including an alleged confession from Doerman the Clermont County Sheriff’s Office said it contained, will no longer be admissible as evidence in Doerman’s trial.

Clayton, Hunter and Chase Doerman.

Clayton, Hunter and Chase Doerman. (Rachel Brown)

Then, the following week, Doerman appeared in court and entered a new plea to the charges against him: not guilty by reason of insanity. His attorneys filed the plea more than nine months after his arrest and his first plea of not guilty.

According to two versions of the bill of particulars — one version released in 2023 and a second version released in April — Doerman came home from work early on June 15, 2023.

According to the newest version of the document, Doerman was home for “a little while,” before he picked up a Bible and began walking around the house with it.

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“Chad knows what’s right,” the document says Doerman mumbled while walking with the Bible.

Doerman then went to get into his gun safe in the master bedroom.

The documents say Doerman’s wife intervened and told Doerman that he was scaring her, that she didn’t like what he was doing and that she was going to call his parents.

Doerman responded that he was “just kidding” and “playing around,” according to the document.

After that, Doerman decided to lie down in the bedroom; because of his behavior, Doerman’s wife did not want him to be alone, the documents say, so she and one of the children went into the bedroom with him.

From there, the narrative of events is the same as the initial version released in 2023, with the document detailing Doerman removing a Marlin Model .22 rifle with a loaded magazine from the gun safe in the bedroom and opening fire on his family, including chasing his children through the yard of the home.

This story was originally written by Felicia Jordan for Scripps News Cincinnati, an E.W. Scripps Company.