“From the dawn of man his blood filled cries for revenge have been heard, the lustful poison for vengeance seeping into his heart blackening his soul. The creator heard these cries – thus while giving the law to Moses said, whomever seeks to take a life with this in their heart is themselves guilty of murder.” — Johnny William Byrd, Jr.

Byrd’s words from death row ring true. Consider his warning and imagine his plight. As a nineteen-year-old, he made the mistake of doing downers and drinking alcohol and hanging out with two older guys in a van one fateful night. The next day, he awoke hung over in the Hamilton County jail cell and found himself accused of murder. Despite the fact that there was no physical evidence against him – and one of the other guys in the van’s footprint was on the counter in the convenience store where the clerk, Monte Tewksbury, was fatally stabbed once in the liver – Byrd was the only one found guilty of a capital offense and sentenced to death.

The person who initially suggested Byrd was the culprit was the sister of John Brewer, a man who, a few years later, admitted that he had actually killed the clerk. Brewer swears under oath to this day that Byrd was too stoned that evening to do anything. Nevertheless, the Hamilton County prose-cutors secured the testimony of a known jailhouse snitch and liar, Ronald “Bull” Armstead who was facing 15 years in prison for violating parole and beating a prison guard and nurse.

Armstead provided the only “direct” evidence against Byrd. He claimed Byrd conveniently confessed to him while they were PM Magazine program portraying the singing Tewksbury family in happier times. This “alleged” confession allowed Hamilton County prosecutors to play the widely prejudicial tape at trial to push the jury’s hot buttons. Armstead also failed to disclose that he was facing 15 years in prison; and the prosecutors vouched for his honesty. He was let free after his testimony against Byrd.

According to police records, Armstead presently drifts between Las Vegas and San Diego where he frequently involved in robbing and beating tourists and has various arrests and convictions.

As Governor Bob Taft and Attorney General Betty Montgomery drag the Buckeye State towards the hell-black abyss where bloodlust reigns and vengeance rules, and the redeeming light of mercy knows no place, we should not go quietly.

An Ohio State University poll in 1997 found that 59% of Ohioans supported life in prison without parole over the death penalty. In a 1999 OSU poll, 68% of Ohioans surveyed held that the likelihood of an innocent person being convicted and executed was “somewhat likely” or “very likely.”

We publish Byrd’s photos because we refuse to accept the lies of the government and their snitch. We refuse to dehumanize Johnny Byrd. We believe the execution of the mentally retarded and mentally ill Wilford Berry was immoral. We believe the scheduled April execution of the borderline mentally retarded and mentally ill J.D. Scott sanctions Ohio as a “rogue nation” where the least of our brethren and God’s most wretched creatures are routinely sacrificed to boost the political polls of Montgomery and Taft.

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