19 February 2002 – John William Byrd Jnr

John William Byrd JnrJohn William Byrd Jnr professed his innocence to the end.

He was adamant that he hadn’t committed the murderous crime for which he was executed today in 2002. So, Byrd devoted the 18 and a half years that he spent incarcerated on death row trying to appeal and get his sentence overturned.

Blame vultures

Byrd plus a mate and fellow assailant, John Brewer, swooped on a corner shop one night. They had been trying to knock off the store when Byrd apparently stabbed an employee during the scuffle.

They got even greedier and tried to scavenge at another store nearby, but the sales assistant managed to barricade himself in the back room while a customer escaped. So, the crimes did not come without witnesses either. The word spread and the criminals were caught in the fullness of time, along with their getaway driver, William Danny Woodall.

The trio was found guilty and sentenced. Brewer and Woodall got life. Byrd got death. He then put all his energy into trying to shift the blame on to Brewer and failed, despite actual affidavits from Brewer confirming he’d sunk the blade into 41-year-old sales assistant Monte B. Tewksbury.

Byrd, who protested his innocence right up to his execution, had spent virtually half his life on Ohio’s death row. He was executed by lethal injection for murder and died aged 38.

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