His victims were neighbors who knew him well enough to let him into their homes.
Troy L. Hairston “was someone they thought they could trust,” Franklin County Assistant Prosecutor Kara Keating said Thursday at Hairston’s sentencing hearing in Common Pleas Court.
Hairston took advantage of that trust by raping two women in their South Side homes — one of them his 70-year-old next-door neighbor — and raping and murdering a third woman in a nearby garage.
The first attack occurred four months after Hairston, 49, was released from prison, where he had served 25 years for two 1993 rapes.
“In my six years on the bench, I’ve only told one other person that I thought they were beyond rehabilitation,” Judge Jenifer French said to Hairston. “You are the second person I’m going to say that to.”
French sentenced him to the maximum of life in prison without the chance of parole.
“You are an incredible risk to society, obviously, and will be for the rest of your life,” she said.
Hairston pleaded guilty in July to rape and aggravated murder in the death of 47-year-old Tonya L. Daniels, whose body was found on Feb. 24, 2019, in a garage behind a home in the 900 block of Seymour Avenue.
Hairston also pleaded guilty to raping a 57-year-old woman in her home just down the street from his residence in the 900 block of Geers Avenue on the same day that Daniels was murdered.
The rape of the 70-year-old woman occurred on Sept. 26, 2018, at her home next door to Hairston’s.
The murder four months later occurred one block of west of Hairston’s home.
Keating said that Hairston fatally beat and stabbed Daniels after raping her. He also told his other two victims that he was going to kill them. Both told investigators that he choked them.
Hairston told a pre-sentencing investigator that he intended the kill the 57-year-old victim until she asked him, “What did I ever do to you?”
Neither of the surviving victims, nor any of Daniels’ family members, attended the hearing, but Assistant Prosecutor Dan Meyer read aloud from a letter submitted by Daniels’ sister-in-law, Angel Roddy.
“Troy Hairston is a coward ... that I’ll never forgive,” she wrote. “Why did you have to end my sister’s life? ... I honestly think jail is too good for you.”
Hairston asked the judge for permission to lower his face mask to offer an apology to the victims and their families before he was sentenced.
“I just pray to God that they will find it in their heart to forgive me,“ he said. ”I noticed in the letter, (Roddy) said she’ll never forgive me, but I believe she will.“
Defense attorney Stan Drzewiecki said his client, who called police to confess to the crimes, has a history of mental-health problems that can be traced to a traumatic childhood. In addition to being a victim of sexual abuse as a child, Hairston witnessed his mother fatally shoot his stepfather, Drzewiecki said.
Two psychologists who evaluated Hairston concluded that he suffers from mental illness, including hearing voices, but that he was competent to stand trial and didn’t meet the legal requirements for a defense of not guilty by reason of insanity.
The judge said she took Hairston’s troubled personal past into account, but sentenced him to life because “I have to make sure I’m protecting the public.”