Harry Mitts Jr., who shot and killed a man and a police officer after shouting racial slurs in Garfield Heights, Ohio in 1994, has been executed. The 61-year-old man had experienced a religious conversion while in prison, and asked for forgiveness from the families of the victims and clemency from the state. But authorities denied his pleas, and he was administered pentobarbital and pronounced dead at 10:39 a.m. Wednesday morning at the prison in Lucasville, 19 years after the crime:
Wielding a gun with a laser sight and later other weapons, Mitts first shouted racial epithets and killed a neighbor’s black boyfriend, John Bryant, and then shot and killed white Garfield Heights police Sgt. Dennis Glivar as he responded to the scene. Mitts also shot and wounded two other police officers.
The Ohio Parole Board and Republican Gov. John Kasich had denied Mitts’ pleas for mercy.
Mitts, at his clemency hearing, had pointed to a virtually clean record before and after the day of the shootings and said he had found God in prison. After his conviction, he spoke of receiving a Bible from Glivar’s mother and sister and a letter expressing their forgiveness and urging him to seek repentance.
Mitts told the Ohio Parole Board he had drunk heavily because he was distraught over his divorce and had likely shot Bryant to draw police to his home in hopes they would shoot and kill him. He said he wasn’t a racist and didn’t remember directing racial slurs at Bryant before shooting him. He said he couldn’t say why he didn’t shoot two white neighbors he encountered ahead of Bryant.
Prosecutors argued that, with the murders, multiple shootings and additional death threats carried out that day, Mitts “exhibited complete disregard for the lives of officers and innocent bystanders at the scene.”
Mitts visited with friends and advisers and ate a final meal on Tuesday:
Mitts received visits from attorneys Robert Dixon and Jeff Kelleher, friend Gary Hopkins and spiritual advisor the Rev. Edward Jenkins.
Mitts and Jenkins sang hymns during their visit, said Ricky Seyfang, a spokeswoman with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.
Mitts also penned two letters to be mailed after his execution. Seyfang said she does not know who the letters are addressed to.
For his special evening meal, Mitts ate steak smothered with mushrooms and onions, Caesar salad with ranch dressing, Italian bread, fries, peach pie, butter pecan ice cream and Dr. Pepper.
He finished it all, Seyfang said.
Mitts drank only coffee for breakfast Wednesday morning.
Mitts received the last dose of pentobarbital that Ohio will administer. The drug’s manufacturer has stopped making it available for the purpose of lethal injection. The state has not yet announced what its new method of execution will be.
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