Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Ohio executes inmate 18 years after slaying

By Sharon Turco
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[IMAGE] A van carrying the body of David Brewer leaves the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville.
(Associated Press photo)
| ZOOM |
LUCASVILLE, Ohio - After 18 years, David Brewer said it was time to die.

The man who kidnapped, assaulted and killed Sherry Byrne in March 1985 recently told his uncle Phil Brewer, "If my death will help Sherry's family move on, then it's probably worth it.''

The state executed Brewer, 44, on Tuesday. He died at 10:20 a.m. from a lethal injection administered at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville.

Brewer's brother and sister, his spiritual adviser and his uncle sat nearby.

Brewer was peaceful as he prepared to die. He spoke briefly, saying, "I'd like to say to the system in Ohio, as far as the death row inmates are concerned, there are some that are innocent. I'm not one of them."

"Where's the remorse?" Byrne's husband, Joe Byrne, a witness to the execution, cried out in a soft voice - so soft Brewer couldn't hear him.

Brewer briefly waved to his family, but never looked at Byrne; Sherry's mother, Myrtle Kaylor; or Bill Schenck, the Greene County prosecutor, all of whom came to Lucasville to watch Brewer die.

"David Brewer had to die,'' said Byrne, now 43 and living in New Jersey. "He deserved nothing less than death.''

The almost two dozen of Sherry Byrne's family members standing behind him nodded in agreement.

Attorneys at the Ohio Public Defender's Office made appeal after appeal over the years. Earlier this month, they argued Brewer's life should be spared because he was a good citizen before the crime and model prisoner.

Gov. Bob Taft said no.

"We had hope until that point,'' said Phil Brewer, 66, former fire chief of Wilmington, Ohio.

There was no last-minute plea for mercy.

Brewer lured Sherry Byrne from her Springdale home to a Sharonville motel on the pretense she would be meeting him and his wife. But he was alone.

Brewer and Joe Byrne had attended Georgetown College outside Lexington, Ky., together and the couples sometimes socialized. She had no reason not to trust him, her husband said.

Authorities said Brewer sexually assaulted and beat Sherry Byrne in the motel room before abducting her and driving around with her in the trunk of his car for several hours. At one point she scrawled out a note asking for help, which she held out a crack in the trunk.

Brewer killed Sherry Byrne after police called to question him about the note. After being questioned by Springdale police, he confessed and told officers where to find her body.

"I hope that David Brewer saw my daughter's face and her plea for mercy as he left this world,'' Kaylor said.


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