19 February 1999 – Wilford Berry Jnr

Wilford Berry JnrWilford Berry Jnr was the first American to waive his right to appeal after he was sentenced to be executed.

Berry had been done for killing his old boss, and became known as the ‘Volunteer’ after he refused to contest his death penalty.

Berry angry

He’d shot Charles Mitroff possibly in revenge. A drunken Mitroff had nearly mown his sister down, when he was out driving his van. However other sources state it was robbery, or maybe even a motiveless murder.


Of course the State of Ohio refused to let him waive his right to appeal. They deemed him unfit to make that decision. So psychiatrists were called in and while they recognised that he had schizophrenic and antisocial tendencies, he nevertheless was able to make the decision. So they ruled in favour of Berry.


But that didn’t go down too well inside. Fellow death row inmates jumped him, because they were worried that his decision would affect their own rights to appeal. Amazingly he survived the attack, although it left him needing staples to hold his skull together.

Nevertheless, Berry never changed his stance on appeals and he was put to death by lethal injection on 19 February 1999, aged 36.

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