Brian Golsby, who was found guilty in the kidnapping, rape and murder of Ohio State student Reagan Tokes on Feb. 8 2017, enters Franklin County Court of Common Pleas on March 13 2018. Credit: Matt Dorsey | Engagement Editor

Brian Golsby’s defense team is counting on the thin line between sympathy and empathy to keep him alive.

Defense attorney Diane Menashe urged jurors Friday morning during opening statements of the sentencing phase to use empathy, attempting to understand what Golsby went through during his childhood, when deciding whether or not convicted killer Golsby deserves the death penalty for the kidnapping, rape and murder of Ohio State student Reagan Tokes on Feb. 8, 2017.

After not calling any witnesses to testify in the capital-murder trial in which Golsby was found guilty on all counts against him Tuesday, the defense will attempt to spare Golsby of the death penalty by outlining his unstable upbringing and long history of sexual and physical abuse the defense said he has experienced.

The jury must weigh the aggravating circumstances versus the mitigating factors when deciding whether Golsby should be put to death.

The defense includes Golsby being raised by a mentally unstable, drug-addicted and physically abusive mother, in addition to the fact that Golsby was raped at a young age and was in and out of foster care and youth homes for much of his upbringing.

“I am asking you on behalf of Brian not to kill him,” Menashe said to the jury during her opening statement, saying she would refer to Golsby by his first name throughout the remainder of the sentencing phase in an attempt to humanize him.

Franklin County prosecutor Ron O’Brien reiterated that the state felt the only acceptable penalty for the crimes Golsby has now been found guilty of is death. 

O’Brien said the aggravating circumstances far outweigh the mitigating factors, most notably the fact Golsby controlled Tokes for more than two hours with the use of a gun he ultimately used to kill her.                                         

The prosecution rested its case Friday morning following opening statements, saying it will not call any more witnesses, instead relying on the material it presented last week to the jury and asking that jurors have access to evidence that was used to convict him of aggravated murder.        

The jury must choose between life in prison with possibility of parole after 25 years; parole after 30 years; life in prison without the possibility of parole; or death.