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Published: Thursday, 10/23/2008

Ohio parole board tells governor to reject Bryant-Bey s clemency request

BY JIM PROVANCE
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU CHIEF

COLUMBUS Gov. Ted Strickland should not show Gregory Bryant-Bey mercy in the 1992 robbery murder of a Toledo merchant, the Ohio Parole Board unanimously recommended Thursday.

Bryant-Bey, 53, faces lethal injection on Nov. 19 for killing Dale Pinkelman, 48, whose body was found lying face up, a single stab wound to his chest, on the floor of his shop, Pinkelman s Collectibles.

He was also convicted in the similar murder almost three months later of Pete Mihas, 61, owner of downtown Toledo s Boardroom restaurant. He received a life sentence for that murder, but the evidence from that case subsequently helped convict him of the earlier Pinkelman murder.

During his clemency hearing last week, Bryant-Bey s attorneys made little effort to argue that he was innocent and instead focused largely on his upbringing, saying that this, and a history of drug and alcohol abuse, contributed to the man he became.

They argued that he d been abandoned by his Toledo mother at a young age and was left with an abusive godmother in New York. They described an incident as a child when he ran away and tried to walk home to Toledo.

His mother eventually retrieved him, returned him to Toledo, and then left him with an ex-husband, who was not his father, and his family.

The argument didn t sway the board.

"In fact, testimony and information presented indicated that after Bryant-Bey returned to Toledo at the age of 13, he was able to adjust adequately and conform to societal norms, and experienced a more stable family life," reads the report. "The board also notes that Gregory L. Bryant-Bey does not accept full responsibility for the crimes of conviction."

Bryant-Bey s attorneys have asked the governor to commute his death sentence to life in prison without parole. As an alternative, they d asked for a 90-day reprieve to further examine evidence in the case, but they barely mentioned this avenue during his clemency hearing.

Death row inmates do not attend their clemency hearings, and Bryant-Bey declined an opportunity to be personally interviewed by a board member at the Ohio State Penitentiary near Youngstown.

Of its 34 death-row clemency decisions since 1999, the board has recommended mercy just once and Gov. Bob Taft followed that recommendation, commuting a death sentence to life in prison.

For the most part, Gov. Ted Strickland has also followed the parole board s recommendations in the few death row clemency decisions he s made since taking office in early 2007. One exception was his decision to commute to life in prison the sentence of John Spirko, who faced execution for the 1982 murder of Van Wert County postmaster Betty J. Mottinger.

The parole board had twice recommended that Spirko not receive clemency.

Contact Jim Provance at: jprovance@theblade.com, or 614-221-0496.



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