The Mahoning County Prosecutor’s Office filed an objection with the Ohio Parole Board
regarding the upcoming parole hearing of convicted killer Bennie Adams. Adams was convicted
and sentenced to death for the December 1985 murder of Gina Tenney. Adams was convicted of
one count of Aggravated Felony-Murder, in violation of R.C. 2903.01(B), and a single,
accompanying death-penalty specification, in violation of R.C. 2929.04(A)(7); to wit: that the
victim Gina Tenney’s murder was committed in the course of committing rape, aggravated
burglary, aggravated robbery, or kidnapping. His death sentence was later vacated by the Supreme
Court of Ohio, and he was sentenced to life imprisonment with parole eligibility after 20 years.
While Adams was always a suspect in Ms. Tenney’s murder, evidence directly tying
Adams to her murder was not obtained until more than 20 years after her death. In 2007, the Ohio
Attorney General invited police departments to submit cold-case evidence for DNA testing. The
Youngstown Police Department submitted the evidence that it kept from the investigation. Ohio’s
Bureau of Criminal Investigation analyzed those items and concluded that “Bennie Adams cannot
be excluded as the source of the semen on the vaginal swab.” (Trial Tr., at 587.) Further, “Bennie
Adams cannot be excluded as the major source of the semen on the underwear.” (Trial Tr., at 587.)
The advent of DNA testing and the analysis of the evidence the Youngstown police
department kept for more than 20 years was crucial to convicting Adams of this brutal murder.
To date, Adams has been incarcerated for an aggregate 32 years; 13 years and 10 months
for Gina Tenney’s murder, and 18 years and 3 months for a separate, but unrelated rape that
occurred in nearby Boardman Township in October 1985. According to the objection filed by
Ralph Rivera, Assistant Chief, Criminal Division, Adams’ “terrifying pattern of criminal behavior
in 1985, however, justifies his continued incarceration.” Accordingly, The Mahoning County
Prosecutor’s Office, through Prosecutor Paul J. Gains, objected to the release of Adams, Inmate
No. A560125, because there does not exist “reasonable ground to believe that * * * paroling the
prisoner would further the interests of justice and be consistent with the welfare and security of
society.” R.C. 2967.03.
The matter is pending and will be considered by the Ohio Parole Board at an institutional
hearing Thursday, August 26, 2021.