PRESS RELEASE, 3/3/2009

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph T. Deters urges the public to voice their opposition to the possible parole of Francis Smith, Jr.


Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph T. Deters is asking the public to join him in voicing their opposition to the possible parole of Francis Smith, Jr.

In 1989, Smith kidnapped and robbed Mary (Tia) Ruehlman, wife of Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Robert Ruehlman, as she and her five month-old daughter were leaving a Western Hills store. In a particularly vicious and chilling attack, Smith hid in Mrs. Ruehlman's van while she and her daughter were inside the store. When they returned to the van, Smith pistol whipped Mrs. Ruehlman, put her in a choke hold and demanded that she drive away. While she was driving the van, Smith forced Mrs. Ruehlman to drive faster by holding the loaded weapon to her baby's stomach. Mrs. Ruehlman seized the opportunity when she pulled near some people, to grab her baby and jump out of the van to safety. The defendant fled the scene and discarded his loaded gun in a local amusement park frequented by small children. The gun was later recovered and testing revealed Mrs. Ruehlman's blood and hair on the weapon.

Smith has a lengthy record with the criminal justice system and was out on parole when he committed the offenses against Mrs. Ruehlman and her baby.

The Hamilton County Prosecutor's Office was notified of a pending release hearing for Smith in July, 2008 and sent a letter to the parole board opposing release. The parole board did not hold the hearing until December, 2008, and decided to tentatively release Smith in April, 2009. The Hamilton County Prosecutor's Office is requesting that this decision be reviewed in a full board hearing.

Prosecutor Deters urges the community to voice their opposition to Smith's possible parole by visiting his web site at www.hcpros.org/parole. The public may also direct correspondence to Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections, Central Office Attention: Ohio Parole Board, 770 W. Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio 43222 or call them at 614-752-1200.

Prosecutor Deters commented, "We are asking the public for their help in keeping Smith in jail for as long as possible. Smith is a very dangerous criminal who is well deserving of every day he spends incarcerated and his release would be a threat to whatever community he winds up in."