Ohio moves condemned inmate Mitts to death house

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Associated Press

Posted on September 24, 2013 at 7:32 PM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 24 at 8:03 PM

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A white gunman sentenced to die for killing a black man and a police officer during a 1994 Ohio shooting rampage has been moved to the state's death house ahead of his scheduled execution, the last before the state's execution drug expires.

Sixty-one-year-old Harry Mitts Jr. arrived at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville on Tuesday. He's scheduled to die Wednesday.

Mitts received the death penalty in the killings of a neighbor's black boyfriend and a white Garfield Heights police sergeant.

Mitts yelled racial slurs before the killings. But he has said he's not a racist and has found God.

Ohio's supply of the powerful sedative pentobarbital is expiring after Mitts' lethal injection. The state says it expects to announce its new execution method by Oct. 4.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

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, a day ahead of his scheduled execution.

Harry Mitts Jr., 61, arrived at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville around 10:30 a.m., a prisons spokeswoman said. 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 will be the last before the state's supply of its execution drug expires.

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, who was black. 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. "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 has been concentrating on spiritual matters on what are expected to be his final days, Kelleher said.

"He is more concerned with the higher power right now than what those like myself or the state might or might not do," 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 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."

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, the powerful sedative pentobarbital, expiring, the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction has said it expects to announce its new execution method by Oct. 4.

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