Monday, April 22, 2002

Victim's family celebrates his life

The Associated Press

        MASON, Ohio — Family and friends of a man murdered 19 years ago by John W. Byrd Jr. held a celebration of the victim's life two months after Byrd's execution for the crime.

        Byrd, who was convicted of killing Monte B. Tewksbury during a botched robbery at a Cincinnati-area convenience store in 1983, was executed Feb. 19 at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility near Lucasville.

        On Sunday, Tewksbury's family and friends gathered to honor the victim and raise money for the Parents of Murdered Children group.

        Tewksbury's widow, Sharon Tewksbury, insisted that the event was not a memorial.

        “We're calling this a letting-go,” she said.

        The five-hour event at a hotel here attracted dozens of Tewksbury's family members and friends.

        The Tewksburys' daughter, Kim Tewksbury, said Byrd's execution brought the family “a sense of peace.”

        “We get our lives back,” she said. “We get our time back.”

        Guests looked through albums that held photos of the Tewksbury family in happier times. Next to the albums was a copy of Sharon Tewksbury's public statement released the day Byrd was executed.

        “I do not celebrate death today,” she wrote. “I celebrate life, the life of a sweet, innocent man who was loved and respected by many in his community.”

        “Go home. Hug your wives, husbands, children and all you have because sometimes tomorrow never comes.”


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