COLUMBUS, Ohio – Gov. John Kasich on Wednesday rejected mercy for a condemned killer of two men, likely ensuring that the death-row inmate’s execution will proceed next week.
Harry Mitts Jr. is scheduled to die by injection Sept. 25 for killing the men, including a suburban Cleveland police officer, during a 1994 outburst at an apartment. His attorney previously said that no other appeals were planned.
As is his practice in such cases, Kasich didn’t explain his reasoning except to note that the Ohio Parole Board unanimously recommended against mercy Aug. 27.
Mitts uttered racial slurs before shooting his first victim, John Bryant, who was black, according to court records. He fired on two police officers as they approached his apartment where he’d taken refuge, wounding one and killing the second, Garfield Heights Sgt. Dennis Glivar.
At trial, Mitts’ attorney argued that Mitts suffered an alcoholic blackout that night and didn’t know what he was doing. But Jeff Kelleher, the lawyer handling Mitts’ appeals and clemency request, says there was no basis for that defense.
Kelleher says Mitts’ original lawyer missed the chance to tell the full story: that Mitts was depressed and caused the disturbance in hopes of committing suicide by being shot by police. Mitts knows what he did, takes responsibility, is remorseful and is not and never has been a racist, Kelleher says.
He was an angry, upset person who did something totally unexpected, Kelleher said in August. It’s not the person he was before, it’s not the person he’s been since.
In its unanimous ruling, the board said it wasn’t convinced Mitts had taken full responsibility for the crime and it rejected his claim that the shooting wasn’t racially motivated.
Given the multiple deaths, the racial animus underlying Bryant’s death, and the law enforcement victims Mitts targeted, Mitts’ case is clearly among the worst of the worst capital cases, the board said.