Tuesday, February 09, 1999

State denies withholding Berry evidence

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery's staff denied on Monday that it withheld vital evidence that Wilford Lee Berry Jr. is mentally incompetent to waive his appeals and be executed.

        That issue has been resolved, and there is no reason to delay his execution, Assistant Attorney General Bradley D. Barbin told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati.

        Working against Mr. Berry's wishes, Ohio's public defender raised the evidence issue in its latest attempt to postpone or cancel plans to give Mr. Barry a lethal injection on Feb. 19.

        Mr. Berry says he'd rather die than live in prison. Ohio has executed no one since 1963.

        The issue is not whether recent beatings in prison diminished Mr. Berry's competence, Mr. Barbin wrote.

        “The only question is whether Berry was competent when he waived his right to further appeals.”

        The Ohio Supreme Court determined Dec. 3, 1997, that Mr. Berry was competent to waive that right.


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