Loading…
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Current Weather
Loading Current Weather....
HomeNewsLocal
Published: Sunday, 11/16/2008

Condemned man's family pleads for a reprieve

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER
The petition drive is led by Toledoan James Strange, who questions whether Bryant-Bey got a fair trial. Ruth Williamson-Bey, flanked by daughters Yasmine Braswell, left, and Alethea Braswell, knows time is running out for her half-brother. But she doesn't believe justice has been served. The petition drive is led by Toledoan James Strange, who questions whether Bryant-Bey got a fair trial. Ruth Williamson-Bey, flanked by daughters Yasmine Braswell, left, and Alethea Braswell, knows time is running out for her half-brother. But she doesn't believe justice has been served.
THE BLADE/DAVE ZAPOTOSKY Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Sitting in a friend s home surrounded by her six daughters, Ruth Williamson-Bey wasn t full of sorrow when she spoke of her condemned brother.

Instead, she remained hopeful that Gregory Bryant-Bey s life still would be spared.

I m not really angry. I just wish they would have investigated it more, she said of the 1992 murder case that led Bryant-Bey to Ohio s death row.

We all want closure. It s just crazy how things are going, she said. It s not just our family. It s any family that goes through this.

Fifteen years after Bryant-Bey was sentenced to death for the stabbing death of Dale Pinkelman, Bryant-Bey s family members are circulating a petition asking Gov. Ted Strickland to grant a 90-day reprieve. The petition asks that Bryant-Bey be given more time to allow his legal counsel time to gather and review other evidence in the case.

As of last week, family members had gathered more than 200 signatures from Toledo residents.

Ms. Williamson-Bey knows time is running out. She knows that Bryant-Bey s execution is still scheduled for Wednesday despite numerous hearings and appeals. But she doesn t believe justice has been served, and she s struggling to give her brother once last chance.

Since his conviction in 1993, Bryant-Bey s case has been reviewed multiple times by state and federal courts. His convictions and death sentence have been upheld by each court.

Bryant-Bey declined requests for interviews.

Although the two had different fathers, Ms. Williamson-Bey said she always has felt a strong bond with her half-brother so strong, in fact, that she begged her father to bring the then-13-year-old Bryant-Bey home from New York where their mother had abandoned them 11 years earlier.

It was during his decade away that Bryant-Bey was physically abused by the woman who cared for him, according to a 1996 psychological evaluation. But he was welcomed as part of the family once he returned to Toledo, Ms. Williamson-Bey said.

What happened years later when he was convicted in the robberies and murders of Mr. Pinkelman, owner of Pinky s Collectibles, and Pete Mihas, owner of the Board Room restaurant, we don t really know, she said.

Kelly Pinkelman Clark, Mr. Pinkelman s daughter, said Bryant-Bey never apologized to her family.

But Bryant-Bey did apologize to the Mihas family when he read a written statement on June 10, 1993, to the jury that chose a life sentence over death for that murder.

You can never know how deeply sorry I am for the pain I have caused the Mihas family, he said. Not only them, but I have hurt and shamed my family. My whole life has been nothing but a struggle, and this is where it has gotten me. I know the Mihas family will never forgive me for what I have done, but I am sorry. I hope someday I can forgive myself.

David Stebbins, the assistant federal public defender recently assigned to the case, said his office has worked to supplement the information in Bryant-Bey s clemency petition pending before Mr. Strickland.

In unanimously recommending that the governor not show him mercy last month, the Ohio Parole Board noted that upon his return to Toledo at age 13, he was able to adjust adequately and conform to societal norms and experienced a more stable family life.

Mr. Stebbins suggested the parole board jumped to the wrong conclusion.

There doesn t seem to be any question that he had an abusive and horrible childhood up until the age of 13, he said. He was abused physically and treated badly. His mother abandoned him. But at the age of 13, he went to live with a relatively stable family in Toledo, where his mother abandoned him again and was never seen again.

The local petition drive to stave off the execution is led by James Strange, an active member in the Toledo urban community. He said he believes Bryant-Bey would have received a more fair and just trial had he had the money to hire his own attorneys instead of being represented by court-appointed attorneys.

This is a petition of the people of the community who believe and feel he needs an opportunity to receive a fair trial, he said. Yes, it s a late date. But it s better late than never.

In a recent visit with her brother, her first in 16 years, Ms. Williamson-Bey said he was in good spirits, holding the emotion in. She said that her family remains hopeful that something will stop the execution.

I want to tell him that we love him and to hang in there, she said.

Blade Columbus Bureau Chief Jim Provance contributed to this article.

Contact Erica Blake at:eblake@theblade.comor 419-213-2134.



Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. If a comment violates these standards or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, click the "X" in the upper right corner of the comment box to report abuse. To post comments, you must be a Facebook member. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.








Poll