COLUMBUS, Ohio – A white gunman sentenced to die for killing a black man and a police officer during a 1994 suburban Cleveland shooting rampage was moved to the state's death house on Tuesday ahead of his scheduled execution, the last before the state's execution drug expires.
Harry Mitts Jr., 61, arrived at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville on Tuesday. He was placed under constant surveillance Sept. 18, well ahead of the usual 72-hour suicide watch window, in the wake of two high-profile inmate suicides. The lethal injection scheduled for him on Wednesday will be the state's last with the powerful sedative pentobarbital.
Mitts received the death penalty in the killings of a neighbor's boyfriend, John Bryant, and a Garfield Heights police sergeant, Dennis Glivar. During an outburst at an apartment, Mitts uttered racial slurs before shooting Bryant. He then fired on two police officers responding to the scene, killing Glivar, who was white, and wounding the other officer.
Attorney Jeff Kelleher said Mitts has 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.
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 has been concentrating on spiritual matters, Kelleher said.
Prisons spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said Mitts was calm and cooperative on Tuesday.
The special meal he requested for Tuesday evening included steak with sauteed 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."
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.
With the supply of the state's execution drug expiring, the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction has said it expects to announce its new execution method by Oct. 4. Regular pentobarbital is no longer available because its manufacturer has put it off limits to states for executions.