Ohio moves condemned inmate Harry Mitts Jr. to death house

COLUMBUS, Ohio - An Ohio man sentenced to die for killing two men during a 1994 shooting spree was moved to the state's death house 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 last Wednesday -- well ahead of the usual 72-hour suicide watch window -- in the wake of two high-profile inmate suicides.

Mitts received the death penalty in the killings of John Bryant and Garfield Heights police Sgt. Dennis Glivar. During an outburst at an apartment, Mitts uttered racial slurs before shooting Bryant, who was black, then fired on two police officers responding to the scene, killing Glivar 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.

In its unanimous recommendation against clemency, advice followed by Gov. John Kasich, the Ohio Parole Board 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, Kelleher said Mitts has been concentrating on spiritual matters on what are expected to be his final days.

"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 sautΘed 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 -- perhaps 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.

The lethal injection scheduled for Mitts will be the last before Ohio's supply of its execution drug, pentobarbital, expires. The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction has said it expects to announce its new execution method by Oct. 4.

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