Armeuda Terry, sister of Tyrone Terry, reacts after the Ohio Parole Board delayed the release of Tyrone from the Marion Correctional Institution until Jan. 2, 2008.
COLUMBUS - The Ohio Parole Board yesterday reversed itself and opted to keep Tyrone Terry behind bars for four more years for inflicting injuries that Jim Portentoso s family claims destroyed his life 15 years before he died.
For Terry, timing was everything. The Toledo native had been told in September that he would be paroled Nov. 10, 2003, after serving more than 15 years of a 27-year to 45-year sentence for felonious assault, aggravated robbery, and carrying a concealed weapon.
But on Oct. 9, Mr. Portentoso, the gas station manager whose face was crushed during the 1988 robbery, died from pneumonia and other complications. The Lucas County coroner s office linked his death to the beating Terry inflicted.
“Tyrone Terry destroyed my husband, and he destroyed me,” Jane Portentoso, the victim s wife, told the parole board as she wiped away tears.
“I ve tried in my heart to forgive this man for what he s done, but each day I looked at my husband and how he suffered for no reason, and I couldn t bring myself to forgive and forget,” she said.
A majority of the parole board decided to put off Terry s release from Marion Correctional Institution until Jan. 2, 2008.
He will have served about 20 years by that time.
“There s no comparison to what he was then and what he is now, a good man,” Terry s sister, Tressie, said as the parole board deliberated her brother s fate behind closed doors.
“I give my condolences to the Portentoso family, but I d like to say that hopefully today will bring closure and that they will stop being in pain and go on with their lives,” she said.
The Rev. John Graham of Greenville, the only witness to speak on Terry s behalf, told the board that Terry would have been welcomed upon release into church-affiliated Coinonia House, a mentor program that would have helped him ease back into life outside prison.
“He was high on crack cocaine,” he said. “He just said that was the only thing in his life, that he was consumed with it.”
Mr. Portentoso, then 60, was manager of Licata s Sunoco at 3557 Monroe St. when he and police responded to an early morning alarm at the station. Police searched the station and, finding nothing, left.
Mr. Portentoso stayed behind to prepare to open the station and was surprised by Terry, who emerged from hiding.
He beat him with a six-pound steel tool and fled with a garbage bag containing about 100 packs of cigarettes as police arrived to investigate the second alarm.
Police tracked him to his home by following his footprints in the snow.
As the Portentoso family described their patriarch s suffering, another of Terry s sisters, Armeuda, began to cry.
“It was one of the most heinous things I ve ever seen in my life,” said Nick Portentoso, the victim s son and a retired Fostoria police sergeant.
“My dad didn t have a face. ... He had been bludgeoned to the point where his face was gone,” he said.
After 12 surgeries, he was left with no sinuses or tear ducts. He suffered from nerve damage and constant eye infections. He could not smell or taste.
“Every day, [Terry] could get up, eat food, taste it, smell it, and take a shower without any problems,” Mrs. Portentoso told The Blade while the parole board deliberated.
“My husband didn t have that. Every day he suffered like he was the one who did the crime.”
Although Lucas County Deputy Coroner Cynthia Beisser has ruled the death a homicide, Mr. Portentoso s family does not expect the county prosecutor to try Terry for homicide because of double jeopardy protections.
Even though the charge would be different, the facts leading up to Mr. Portentoso s death would be the same that convicted Terry more than 15 years ago.