COLUMBUS - A Toledo native on Ohio's death row for 14 years yesterday moved a step closer to lethal injection after a federal appeals court upheld his conviction for the 1992 robbery and murder of shopkeeper Dale Pinkelman.
Gregory L. Bryant-Bey, 52, still has the option of asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an appeal.
A three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati unanimously rejected Bryant-Bey's arguments that evidence from a separate murder to which Bryant-Bey confessed should not have been introduced during his trial for Mr. Pinkelman's killing.
Mr. Pinkelman's body was found on the floor of his North Towne Square shop, Pinkelman's Collectibles, in August, 1992.
An informant helped police connect Bryant-Bey with the murder three months later of Peter Mihas, the owner of the Boardroom Restaurant on Huron Street. Bryant-Bey confessed to that murder.
Because of similarities between the two murders and through a match to a palm print found in Mr. Pinkelman's shop, police connected Bryant-Bey to the earlier murder.
In both cases, the victims had been stabbed, their pants removed, and their shoes neatly placed next to the bodies.
Bryant-Bey was first convicted and sentenced to life with possibility of parole in the Mihas murder. He unsuccessfully sought to keep evidence from that trial from later being introduced during his trial for the Pinkelman murder.
He was convicted and sentenced to death.
"The peculiar factual similarities between these two crimes strongly suggested Bey's involvement in the Pinkelman murder, and no doubt greatly increased in the minds of the jurors the likelihood that Bey committed that crime," wrote Circuit Judge Alice M. Batchelder.
"But all evidence tending to prove guilt is prejudicial to a criminal defendant," she wrote. "The critical point in this case is nothing in the record indicates that the prejudice was unfair."