Dayton Daily News Library

Capital punishment in Ohio


(By county of conviction)

Montgomery County

George Skatzes, 51, killed two fellow inmates, Earl Elder and DavidSommers, during the 1993 Lucasville prison riot.

Danny Hooks, 53, a Brown County man, killed Karen Donald and two othermembers of her family in a 1984 Clinton County robbery. He has been on DeathRow for 13 years, the longest of any Dayton-area case.

Samuel Moreland, 44, killed five Daytonians in 1985: Glenna Green, 46;her daughter, Lana Green, 23; and three grandchildren: Daytrin Talbott, 7,Datwan Talbott, 6, and Voliana Green, 6. At the time, Moreland was convictedof killing more people than anyone placed on Death Row before him.

Davel V. "Tony" Chinn, 40, abducted Brian K. Jones, 21, in his car from adowntown Dayton parking lot in 1989 and shot him in Jefferson Twp. Chinn'saccomplice, Marvin Washington, then 15, admitted responsibility in juvenilecourt; less than three years later, Washington was a murder victim himself inthe 1992 Christmas killings.

Marvallous Matthew Keene, 24, sentenced to death in 1993 five times forhis role in the 1992 Christmas killings in Dayton that, in a 60-hour period,left six dead and one injured.

Antonio Sanchez Franklin, 20, was sentenced Sept. 11 for killing his uncle and grandparents. Franklin, who was 18 at the time of the murders, is the youngest person sentenced to death by a Montgomery County judge.

Butler County

Von Clark Davis, 51, shot his girlfriend, Suzette Butler, to death in1983 outside an American Legion hall in Hamilton. At the time he was on paroleafter murdering his wife.

Rhett Gilbert DePew, 44, in 1984 stabbed to death Teresa Jones, 27, herdaughter Aubrey Jones, 7, and Teresa's 12-year-old sister, Elizabeth Burton.He then set Jones' Oxford house afire to cover his tracks.

Jose Loza, 25, shot and killed four members of his girlfriend'sMiddletown family - Georgia Davis, 46, and her children, Gary Mullins, 20,Cheryl Senteno, 25, and LaJuana Jackson, 17. The government in Loza's nativeMexico is looking into his case.

Michael Benge, 36, of Hamilton, beat his girlfriend Judith Gabbard, 38,to death and sank her body in the Great Miami River in 1993.

Kenneth W. Smith, 32, of Hamilton, killed Lewis and Ruth Ray in theirHamilton home in 1995. Mr. Ray, 58, bled to death after being slashed in theneck and beaten; Mrs. Ray, 54, was strangled. Smith's brother Raleigh RandallSmith also was convicted.

Greene County

David M. Brewer, 38, formerly of Washington Twp., in 1985 murdered SherryByrne, 21, of Beavercreek, the wife of his former college fraternity brother.Brewer drove around Beavercreek with Byrne in his car's trunk before killingher. Byrne scrawled "help me" on a piece of paper that trailed from the trunk.

Richard Bays, 32, in 1993 stabbed and beat to death Richard Weaver, a76-year-old Xenia man in a wheelchair.

David Lee Myers, 33, in 1988 murdered Amanda Jo Maher, 18, of Xenia, bydriving a railroad spike into her head.

Preble County

Dennis McGuire, 38, of West Alexandria, in 1989 raped and stabbed todeath Joy G. Stewart, 22, of West Alexandria, who was seven months pregnant.

Clinton County

James Goff, 23, in 1994 stabbed Myrtle Rutledge, 88, to death in herfarmhouse near Wilmington.

Clark County

Timothy L. Coleman, 28, in 1996 shot to death Melinda Stevens, who wasslated to testify against him in a drug-trafficking case, in a Springfieldalley.

Juan Kinley, 30, of Springfield, in 1989 used a machete to murder hisgirlfriend Thelma Miller and her 12-year-old son David at their home inPitchin.

Shelby County

Kevin Yarbrough, 30, was convicted in the May 1994 murder-for-hire ofWilma Arnett outside Sidney. Arnett, 34, was a police informant scheduled totestify against several of Yarbrough's friends in drug-trafficking trials.

Franklin County

Jason Robb, 30, of Dayton, killed guard Robert Vallandingham and inmateDavid Sommers in the 1993 Lucasville prison riot.

Warren County

James Hanna, 49, entered Death Row on Dec. 31 for killing his cellmate at Lebanon Correctional Institution by driving a sharpened paintbrush into his brain. Hanna was serving a life sentence for a 1977 murder in Toledo. He was the first person sentenced to death in Warren County since 1907.
This list combines information published on 3-1-1998 and 2-20-1999.
  On Feb. 19, 1999, Wilford Lee Berry Jr. became the first person executed by the state of Ohio in 35 years.
  Berry, 36, was sentenced to die for the Dec. 1, 1989 murder of his employer, Cleveland baker Charles Mitroff Jr.

Wilford Berry
  Mitroff, a Cleveland baker, had hired Berry as a night porter only days earlier. Berry and accomplice Anthony Lozar were burglarizing the bakery when Mitroff, 52, interrupted them. Lozar shot Mitroff in the chest and Berry shot him in the head as he begged for his life. The robbery netted $140.
  Known as "The Volunteer" because he waived all appeals and said he wanted to die, Berry chose lethal injection over the electric chair. He was given intravenous doses of sodium pentothal to make him lose consciousness, pancuronium bromide to paralyze his muscles and stop his lungs, and potassium chloride to stop his heart. A curtain hid the electric chair as Berry was put to death.
  Before Berry, the last inmate executed was Donald Reinbolt, who was put to death on March 15, 1963. Reinbolt was the 315th person to die by execution in the State of Ohio. No one realized it at the time, but his would be the last execution for more than 35 years.
  The U.S. Supreme Court nullified existing death penalty laws in 1972. Anticipating SupremeCourt action, lower courts had put executions on hold since 1967.
  In 1976, the Supreme Court ruled the death penalty constitutional under certain circumstances ifjuries were permitted to consider mitigating factors. Many states have adopted conforminglegislation and resumed executions -- with Texas leading the list.
  At the time of Berry's execution there were 190 other men on death row in Ohio.
  Also among the inmates who are farthest along in the appeals process are John Spirko, convictedof killing a Van Wert County postmistress in 1982; Rhett DePew, who killed three Oxfordwomen in 1984; and David Brewer of Washington Twp., who killed the wife of his formercollege fraternity brother in 1985.


30 days before execution: If needed, authorities can activate acrowd-control plan for demonstrations. A phone line is set up between thegovernor's office and the execution chamber, with cellular phones as a backup,in the event of a last-minute pardon or execution stay.
One week before execution: The condemned inmate chooses electrocution orlethal injection. If the inmate fails to choose, the method is electrocution.Wilford Berry Jr. has chosen injection.
24 to 72 hours before execution: The prisoner is moved to the Death Houseat the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility at Lucasville, where he ismonitored by an "execution team" of at least 10 prison officials. The prisoneris allowed daily visits with family, friends and clergy. The prisoner namesthree people he wants to witness the execution. Berry has chosen his motherand sister, although it's unclear if they will attend. He specifies funeralarrangements, decides who will receive his personal effects and orders hislast meal. Communication equipment and the execution apparatus are tested. Theinmate is fitted for clothing to be worn at the execution.
Within 12 hours of execution: The Scioto County coroner prepares a deathcertificate. The execution team leader confirms arrangements for dispositionof the body.
Six hours before execution: If electrocution has been chosen, theexecution team prepares the sponges that fit on the prisoner's head to helpconduct the electricity. The prisoner is served his last meal.
Four hours before execution: In the case of electrocution, the prisoner'shead and right leg are shaved. The prisoner is permitted to shower.
Three hours before execution: Officials check the execution chamber, allelectrical circuits and power, and primary and backup communicationsequipment.
Two hours before execution: Witnesses report to the prison. Executionsmay be attended by the warden, the sheriff of the county in which the prisonerwas convicted, the prison system director, doctors, clergy, members of thevictim's family, up to three witnesses chosen by the prisoner and the newsmedia.
One hour before execution: Equipment is checked again.
Ten minutes before execution: Officials establish phone contact with thegovernor's office. If no stay or reprieve has been granted, this contact ismaintained until after the execution.
The execution: Witnesses are escorted into the witness room. The inmateis escorted into the execution chamber. In electrocution, the inmate isstrapped into the electric chair and an electrode is attached to his rightleg. In lethal injection, he is strapped into a bed and intravenous injectiontubes are hooked up. In electrocution, the execution team applies sponges,headset and electrodes to the head and covers the prisoner's head with a hood.At the warden's signal, the designated execution team member activates theelectric chair or begins the lethal injection. After five minutes, the coronerexamines the body and pronounces the prisoner dead.

History of capital punishment in Ohio

July 31, 1885: First execution carried out at the old Ohio Penitentiaryin Columbus

April 29, 1896: The 28th and final execution by hanging

March 15, 1963: Donald Reinbolt becomes the 315th and last person to dateto be executed in Ohio

1972: U.S. Supreme Court rules the death penalty unconstitutional

1974: The state legislature revises Ohio's death penalty, but in 1978 therevised law also is declared unconstitutional

Oct. 19, 1981: Ohio's current capital punishment statute goes into effect

Oct. 21, 1981: Leonard Jenkins of Cleveland becomes the first personsentenced under the new law, but he and several others, including four womenthen on death row, had their sentences commuted to life imprisonment by Gov.Richard Celeste in 1991

October 1993: Ohio legislature makes lethal injection an alterative toelectrocution

Feb. 19, 1999: "The volunteer," Wilford Berry Jr., is executed by lethal injection.

Selected Dayton Daily News stories:

1995 DDN series -
Death Row: A Matter of Time

* He was abused as a child, but he is also a cold-blooded killer. Is ita life worth living?
Published: Monday, March 2, 1998 Page: 1A
By Tim Miller Columbus Bureau

Search the Dayton Daily News library for more stories on capital punishment in Ohio.

Berry's fate still uncertain
Published: Wednesday, March 4, 1998 Page: 1A
By Tim Miller, Tom Beyerlein and Debra JasperDayton Daily News

Volunteer is granted his wish

Published: 02/20/99 -- Page: 1A

File Created: 3-4-1998
Updated: 2-20-1999
Prepared by: Dayton Daily News Library staff
Sources: DDN reports