Friday, August 10, 2001

Rally opposes Byrd's death

Father of Okla. City victim says killing McVeigh didn't help

By William A. Weathers
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A long-time opponent of the death penalty, Bud Welch struggled with his stance after his 23-year-old daughter, Julie, was killed in the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.

        The 62-year-old Oklahoma City resident spoke Thursday to more than 100 people at a rally on Fountain Square opposing the death penalty and supporting clemency for convicted killer John Byrd Jr. of Northside.

[photo] Mary Ray, mother of death row inmate John Byrd Jr., is comforted by daughter Kim Hamer (left) and granddaughter Krystal, 11, at a rally Thursday.
(Steven M. Herppich photo)
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        Mr. Byrd is scheduled to be executed on Sept. 12 for stabbing convenience store clerk Monte Tewksbury to death in Colerain Township in 1983.

        Mr. Welch said he was consumed with “rage and revenge” after his daughter's death. But he said he came to realize that executing Timothy McVeigh, killer of 168 people, would be an act of revenge — something he steadfastly opposes.

        “Killing Tim McVeigh did absolutely nothing for my healing process,” Mr. Welch said.

        “I'm here to speak to the cause rather than the case,” Cincinnati Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk told the crowd.

        The three reasons given for the death penalty — safety for society, a deterrent to others, and retribution — all have validity, Archbishop Pilarczyk said.

        “But none of them justify killing a criminal,” he said.

        Mr. Byrd's mother and sister attended the rally.

        “My brother, my family, my friends and I urge you to contact the governor and parole board” to ask them for executive clemency for Mr. Byrd, said the sister, Kim Hamer, of Cincinnati.

        Ms. Hamer noted that one of Mr. Byrd accomplice's, John Brewer, has sworn he stabbed Mr. Tewksbury.

        Mr. Byrd's claim of “actual innocence” will be heard Monday by the 1st Ohio District Court of Appeals.


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