As the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center toppled and with the Pentagon in flames, Attorney General Betty Montgomery battled on almost alone, as the rest of the nation sought to comfort the wounded, tried to rescue survivors and mourned its dead. Montgomery was not on a mission of mercy, but yearned for more death that day. She wanted Johnny Byrd dead. Reports of Supreme Court justices hidden away in undisclosed bunkers to safeguard them from terrorists attacks, did not deter her from filing a motion to kill Johnny Byrd.

Byrd’s scheduled execution date of Wednesday, September 12 at 10 a.m. was stayed by the Sixth Circuit Court late Monday evening. Numerous questions remained surrounding the killing of suburban Cincinnati convenience store clerk Monte Tewksbury. While Byrd was convicted of actually stabbing Tewksbury during a robbery, his trial was a farce. Byrd’s attorneys failed to investigate his claims of innocence, offer evidence or mount a defense during the trial. The state’s only direct evidence against Byrd was the perjured testimony of a violent and notorious jailhouse snitch, Ronald Armstead. The recent emergence of an unknown fourth suspect, Bobby Pottinger, and affidavits by both of Byrd’s co-defendants saying that the murder was committed by one of them, John Brewer, caused the Sixth Circuit to stay the execution.

Hamilton County is notorious for using snitches in capital murder cases. At the time of this writing, Hamilton County has more people on death row than both Cuyahoga and Franklin County combined, despite having a smaller population. In part, this can be explained by a phenomenon unique to Hamilton County. According to prosecutors there, their jail inmates are the most civic-minded in the state. They’ve come forward with evidence and confessions in no less than ten cases that resulted in death penalty convictions. Ohio Public Defender David Bodiker points out that there’s no other county with even one case of a death penalty conviction by snitch. Also, in each of these cases, the snitch has received favorable treatment regarding their incarceration after their testimony, but miraculously, there’s never been any “deals” according to the Prosecutor’s office. Death by snitch is a way of life in the luckiest county in Ohio. Critics tend to doubt the prosecutor’s office and refer to the Hamilton County snitch industry.

In the days leading up to the scheduled execution, Montgomery’s office marshaled a media blitzkrieg, with the attendant propaganda, to justify the premature execution of Byrd. Montgomery was joined by former Hamilton County Prosecutor and current State Treasurer Joe Deters and the current prosecutor Michael Allen. The lie they’re most fond of is that Byrd was covered in Tewksbury’s blood. Allen prefers referring to Byrd’s blood-stained pants. It’s become a mantra to him, dutifully reported in the Cincinnati Enquirer.

The fact that the prosecutors admit, in many court records, that they couldn’t prove the two small specks of blood on Byrd’s dirty workpants were the victim’s all but ignored by the mainstream media. So is the more telling fact that in post-conviction motions, Byrd has asked that the blood be tested. The prosecutors adamantly oppose this.

Another barefaced lie favored by the trio, particularly Deters, is that Byrd was wearing Mr. Tewksbury’s watch. What they won’t tell you is that Mr. Tewksbury’s gold Pulsar watch was never introduced at Byrd’s trial. The prosecution arrives at this lie through the following tale: they claim a deputy saw Byrd wearing the watch, which they then mistakenly sent to Byrd’s mother, and subsequently lost the original evidence log. But not surprisingly, the day before trial they found a Xerox copy of the evidence log and got a deputy to swear that Byrd was wearing the watch. Byrd’s mother says that they did send her Johnny’s Timex watch. Generally in the United States, evidence is produced at trial but the state could not produce Mr. Tewksbury’s watch. This has not kept Mr. Deters from fabricating after the fact that Byrd was wearing Mr. Tewksbury’s watch, supposedly lost by inept police investigators.

A third lie is that Byrd was the knife-wielder at a second robbery the night of the murder. No physical evidence linked Byrd to either robbery. He was never tried for the second robbery at a U-Tote-M store. But had his attorneys asked for the files, they would have found evidence that pointed to Pottinger as the knife-wielder, they would have found Brewer’s footprint on the counter and they would have found the hair sample from the knife-wielder at the store could not be linked to Byrd. Even more shocking, the state’s own evidence says that the work knife found in a van with Byrd and his co-defendants was not the knife used to stab Tewksbury or a wooden door at U-Tote-M. Of course, this undisputable evidence did not stop the Hamilton County prosecutors from waving the knife around at trial, nor the repeated references by Montgomery, Deters and Allen that Byrd was found with the murder weapon.

Why are Montgomery, Deters and Allen lying so profusely, so profoundly and so obviously? Because they have no direct evidence to justify killing Johnny Byrd. And the alternative is politically unspeakable in their minds – admitting they are lying and that the state makes mistakes in death penalty cases. They’ve already come to grips with this in Illinois, declaring a moratorium on the death penalty when investigations proved that nearly half those on death row were wrongly convicted. Illinois has not experienced the wrath of the world for admitting their mistakes, rather they’ve been universally praised for trying to right the wrongs.

Since 1973, 96 people have been freed from death row for reasons of innocence. Montgomery, Deters and Allen are embracing the model of President George W. Bush, former governor of Texas, who put a record 152 men and women to death. On July 11 of this year, when Bush embarked on his doomed European tour, protesters in Spain greeted him with banners reading: “Bush, American Taliban” likening our president to the religious extremists in Afghanistan who favor killing juveniles, the mentally ill and the mentally retarded. And they have the same attitude that their courts are infallible and god-like.

In order to avoid the embarrassing mass demonstrations in Spain, Bush also engaged in boldface lying. He told the Spanish media that “We should never execute anybody who is mentally retarded.” Yet, as governor of Texas he personally authorized the execution of two mentally retarded men: Terry Washington, a black inmate with an IQ between 58 and 69; and Oliver Cruz, a Latino with an IQ between 64 and 76. In Ohio, the first two people killed by Montgomery were the mentally retarded and brain damaged “volunteer” Wilford Berry who refused to legally defend himself and the lifelong schizophrenic, who was black, Jay D. Scott. The Taliban would be proud.

So why do Montgomery, Deters and Allen and Bush lie and lie and lie? They lie for you. They lie for your votes. John Byrd’s stay of execution ends October 8. The only thing that stands between him and the electric chair is the truth. Byrd is where he is today because he was born without wealth and was represented by bad lawyers. The Sixth Circuit must grant him an evidentiary hearing.

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