Harry Mitts Jr. executed for killing two in 1994

10:55 AM, Sep 25, 2013   |    comments
Harry Mitts. Photo: Ohio Department of Corrections.
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LUCASVILLE, Ohio -- A white gunman who spewed racial slurs before fatally shooting a black man and a police officer in a 1994 rampage at his Ohio apartment complex has been executed with the state's last use of its execution drug.

61-year-old Harry Mitts Jr. died Wednesday morning by lethal injection of the powerful sedative pentobarbital at the state prison in Lucasville.

Ohio's supply of pentobarbital is expiring. The state expects to announce its new execution method by Oct. 4.

Mitts was convicted of aggravated murder and attempted murder in the rampage against random neighbors and responding police officers. He killed John Bryant, a neighbor's boyfriend, and a white Garfield Heights police sergeant, Dennis Glivar.

Attorney Jeff Kelleher said Mitts had taken responsibility for his actions.

"He's been completely forthright and repentant about his crimes, has never denied he did them, has never tried to soften them or explain them away," Kelleher said. "He's been, in every sense of the word, fully accepting of his deeds. That's not an issue."

Prosecutors argued that Mitts' attack was among the worst Ohio has seen, resulting in two deaths, multiple shootings and additional death threats.

The Ohio Parole Board, in its unanimous recommendation against clemency, advice followed by Republican Gov. John Kasich, said Mitts "exhibited complete disregard for the lives of officers and innocent bystanders at the scene."

"That further tragedy did not result from the bedlam that Mitts created on August 14, 1994, is in many respects a miracle," its report said.

With clemency denied and his legal appeals exhausted, Mitts concentrated on spiritual matters during his final days, Kelleher said.

Prisons spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said Mitts was calm and cooperative on the eve of his execution.

The special meal he requested for Tuesday evening included steak with sautéed mushrooms, Caesar salad with ranch dressing, Italian bread, french fries, peach pie, butter pecan ice cream and Dr Pepper.

After Kasich denied Mitts mercy, Kelleher expressed disappointment that the state would insist on going ahead with Mitts' execution "in the face of botched executions, a spate of suicides and the public's decreasing support for the death penalty."

Mitts was on constant watch heading into the 10 a.m. execution after two recent high-profile prison suicides.

Last month, death row inmate Billy Slagle killed himself just a few days before his scheduled execution. Then on Sept. 3, Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro, the state's most notorious inmate at the time, committed suicide as well. Circumstances surrounding the deaths are being scrutinized, and four guards have been placed on paid leave while the state investigates.


By Julie Carr Smyth, AP Statehouse Correspondent

Associated Press

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