|Birth: ||Sep. 2, 1962|
|Death: ||Feb. 19, 1999|
On February 19, 1999, Wilford Berry, 38, was the first person executed in Ohio since March 1963. He chose lethal injection and was Ohio's so-called "volunteer" for execution. Berry was convicted of aggravated murder, armed robbery, and aggravated burglary in the killing of Charles Mitroff, 53, on November 30, 1989, in Cleveland, Ohio.
known as "The Volunteer" because he was the first convict to waive his right to appeal his death sentence after Ohio reinstated the death penalty, His conviction and sentence stemmed from the shooting death of his boss, 66-year-old baker Charles Mitroff of Cleveland, Ohio.
As part of his plan to murder Mitroff, Berry supplied his accomplice and co-worker, Anthony Lozar, with a gun and kept a gun for himself. When Mitroff returned to the bakery after making deliveries, Lozar shot him in the torso. When Mitroff fell to the floor injured, Berry walked up to him and shot him in the head. Berry and Lozar buried Mitroff in a shallow grave near a bridge and stole his van. After he was arrested in Kentucky driving the stolen delivery van while driving drunk, Berry confessed to police and bragged about the murder to his fellow jail inmates.
After his direct appeal in 1997, Berry notified the state courts that he wished to forgo any further challenges to his conviction and sentence and that he desired to submit to the execution of his death sentence. The Ohio Public Defender, who had mandatorily represented Berry in his direct appeal, claimed that he was not mentally competent to make such a decision. The State of Ohio filed a motion for a competency hearing with the Supreme Court of Ohio, and that court ordered an evaluation of Berry's competence.
After hearing the evidence, the trial judge issued an Order on July 22, 1997, found that, although he suffers from a mixed personality disorder with schizotypal, borderline and antisocial features, Berry "is competent to forego any and all further legal challenges
On September 5, 1997, Berry was assaulted by inmates housed in his cell block who had gained control in a riot. He was targeted because his fellow death row inmates felt that his "volunteer status" would negatively effect their efforts to delay their own executions. Berry's jaw and facial bones were badly broken during the assault and required surgery and metal implants to repair the damage. Berry's right hand was also heavily damaged because he used it in an attempt to protect the back of his head from blows inflicted by a heavy padlock swung on a chain. Berry also suffered several broken ribs, bruised internal organs and required staples in his head.
His supporters unsuccessfully sought to use those injuries to establish that Berry was no longer competent, but the state and federal courts repeatedly rejected that argument. On February 19, 1999, his execution was carried out via lethal injection.
Berry's accomplice, Lozar, was convicted of murder and was sentenced to a life term. He can be considered for parole in December 2036.
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Created by: Coleman
Record added: Aug 02, 2009
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