NORTH ROYALTON, Ohio — The Ohio Supreme Court has vacated the conviction and death sentence for George Brinkman, who was accused of killing a woman and her two daughters inside their North Royalton home in 2017.
The Ohio Supreme court ruled that the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas failed to advise George Brinkman of his rights before he pleaded guilty to the aggravated murder charges.
“Because the record in that case showed that the trial court had plainly failed to orally inform [the defendant] of his constitutional right to require the state to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the plea was invalid,” the Supreme Court wrote.
The court ruled that Brinkman did not have a "full understanding” that by pleading guilty, he would wave his two constitutional rights— his right to confront the witnesses against him and to have the state prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
“We vacate Brinkman’s convictions and sentences and remand the cause to the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court for new proceedings,” the court said.
On Nov. 5, 2018, Brinkman pleaded guilty to killing Suzanne Taylor, 45, Taylor Pifer, 21, and Kylie Pifer, 18, at their home in 2017. A three-judge panel, made up of Judges Peter Corrigan, Michael Shaughnessy and Timothy McCormick, sentenced him to death.
According to authorities, Brinkman cut the mother's throat, smothered one daughter to death with a pillow and strangled the other daughter with a phone cord.
After those killings, Brinkman went to Stark County, where he shot and killed Rogell John and his wife, Roberta John, in Lake Township. He was sentenced to death in 2019 for their murders.
Brinkman knew the John family and was house-sitting for them while the two were on vacation, then shot and killed the couple when they returned home, police said.
Their bodies were discovered on June 12, 2017, just a day after the North Royalton family was killed, according to authorities.
Writing for the court, Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor expressed disappointment in the trial court, writing “this inattention is impermissible, especially in a case such as this in which a death sentence is on the line."
The Supreme Court’s ruling does not affect Brinkman’s death sentence in the double murders in Stark County.
Read the full Ohio Supreme Court decision here.
Download the News 5 Cleveland app now for more stories from us, plus alerts on major news, the latest weather forecast, traffic information and much more. Download now on your Apple device here, and your Android device here.