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Published: Wednesday, 3/9/2005

Inmate executed for fatal stabbing of Ohio woman

BY JAMES DREW
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU CHIEF
Smith Smith
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LUCASVILLE, Ohio - As the warden held a microphone over the lethal injection table, condemned inmate William H. Smith was asked if he had a final statement.

Smith, 47, took a deep breath and spoke for about four minutes. Convicted for the 1987 rape and murder of Mary Bradford, a grandmother of six who lived in Cincinnati, Smith spoke calmy as he apologized, asked forgiveness, and said he was giving his life to Jesus Christ.

"This is what you want and I am letting you take my life. I am going to the Lord," Smith said.

In the longest final statement since Ohio resumed carrying out the death penalty in 1999, Smith even had advice for the media: "Don't make things worse than they are - go to the record and get the facts."

Strapped to the gurney, Smith looked at Tim Bradford, Ms. Bradford's grandson, who was the sole witness for the victim.

"I hope that you have the capacity to forgive," Smith said.

Mr. Bradford didn't react, media witnesses said.

"See you on the other side," Smith said at the end of his final statement. "We will all have supper together. What you see here is more than the sum of what you see."

Minutes later, the state executed Smith by injection at the state maximum-security prison in Lucasville. The time of death was 10:19 a.m.

A day earlier, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Smith's appeal. A federal appeals court in Cincinnati ruled Sunday that tests on Smith did not prove he had brain damage.

"On this day when the state carries out such a solemn duty, we should remember Mary Bradford, the innocent victim in this tragic case," Attorney General Jim Petro said.

Smith met Ms. Bradford at a bar in Cincinnati on the night of Sept. 26, 1987. After hours of socializing and drinking alcohol, they went to her apartment, according to court records.

After accusing Ms. Bradford of stealing cocaine from him, Smith stabbed her 10 times and raped her as she lay bleeding to death, court records say. He then stole two televisions and a stereo from her apartment.

Smith told the parole board last month that in 1994, he acknowledged his sole responsibility for the rape, murder, and robbery. Smith became the first Ohio inmate executed this year and the 16th since the state resumed carrying out the death penalty in 1999. Ohio executed seven inmates last year.

With tears streaming down his face, Smith bowed slightly as he was led into the death chamber yesterday morning.

"I'm off," he said.

A cousin of Smith, Gary Dorsey, who witnessed the execution, offered condolences to Ms. Bradford's relatives.

"The only thing that was accomplished today was more pain, more death, and more anxiety," said Mr. Dorsey, a Cincinnati resident. He lashed out at politicians who support the death penalty.

"A man's life is not cheap. No one has a right to take no one's life. That's God's job," he said.

In the final 24 hours of his life, Smith ordered two bags of Doritos for his final dinner, offered a cherry cake recipe to execution team members, and talked with them about the Cincinnati Reds and Bengals.

Smith consoled his relatives about his looming execution.

A prison official described him as lighthearted.

"He's been very conversant with our execution team, he's been very compliant, and he hasn't created any problems," said Andrea Dean, a spokesman for the state prison system.

Contact James Drew at:

jdrew@theblade.com or

614-221-0496.



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