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Harry D. MITTS Jr.





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Shooting rampage - Hate crime
Number of victims: 2
Date of murder: August 14, 1994
Date of arrest: Same day (wounded by police)
Date of birth: June 18, 1942
Victim profile: John Bryant, 28 / Garfield Heights Police Sgt. Dennis Glivar, 44
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Garfield Heights, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on November 21, 1994. Executed by lethal injection in Ohio on September 25, 2013

State of Ohio
Adult Parole Authority

Clemency Report (1.3 Mb)

Supreme Court of the United States

David Bobby, Warden, Petitioner v. Harry Mitts

United States Court of Appeals
For the Sixth Circuit

Harry Mitts v. Margaret Bagley, Warden

United States District Court
Northern District of Ohio

Harry D. Mitts, Jr. v. Margaret Bagley

Facts of the Crime:

On August 14, 1994, Mitts murdered 28-year-old John Bryant and 44-year-old Sergeant Dennis Glivar, and attempted to murder 38-year-old Lieutenant Thomas Kaiser and 38-year-old Officer John Mackey in Mitts' apartment complex.

Mr. Bryant was the boyfriend of Mitts' neighbor. Mitts shouted racial epithets at Mr. Bryant and fatally shot him in the chest. Later, when Sergeant Glivar and Lieutenant Kaiser approached Mitts' apartment, where he had barricaded himself, Mitts came out of the door and opened fire with a gun in each hand, killing Sergeant Glivar and wounding Lieutenant Kaiser. Mitts also shot and wounded Officer Mackey, who was trying to negotiate with Mitts to surrender to police.


Harry Mitts Jr. executed by lethal injection this morning at Lucasville, following 20 years in prison

By Brandon Blackwell -

September 25, 2013

LUCASVILLE, Ohio – Garfield Heights killer Harry Mitts Jr. was executed Wednesday after spending nearly two decades on death row for gunning down his neighbor and a police officer.

A lethal injection stopped Mitts' heart at 10:39 a.m.

Mitts, 61, was sentenced to death in November 1994 after a full-bore firefight at his apartment complex that left neighbor John Bryant and Garfield Heights Police Sgt. Dennis Glivar dead.

Mitts used his last words to ask for forgiveness and encourage the victims' families to find salvation in Jesus Christ.

"I'm so sorry for taking your loved ones' lives," Mitts said with tears in his eyes. "I had no business doing what I did and I've been carrying that burden with me for 19 years.

"Please don't carry that hatred for me with you in your hearts."

Mitts' lethal injection lasted nearly 35 minutes.

At 10:05 a.m., corrections officers walked a calm Mitts into the death chamber, where he was strapped to a steel bed and hooked up to lines that would deliver deadly chemicals.

After his final words, Mitts stared at the ceiling while authorities in another room delivered the injection.

Mitts closed his eyes and took increasingly labored breaths. About a minute later, he began to snore.

The snoring soon stopped and Mitts' breathing gradually slowed. His face turned blue by the time he took his last peaceful gasp.

Mitts is the last person to be put to death in Ohio using the drug pentobarbital. The state's supply of pentobarbital was expected to run out with Mitts' executions today. Department of Rehabilitation and Correction will announce by Oct. 4 how it will respond, according to spokeswoman Ricky Seyfang.

Witnesses, including retired Garfield Heights Police Lt.Tom Kaiser, who was Glivar's partner at the time and was shot twice during Mitts' storm of gunfire, joined others in watching the condemned murderer die at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility.

Victim witnesses included Bryant's sister, Glivar's widow and mother, and Garfield Heights Police Chief Robert Sackett.

"I know its wrong, but I still have hatred for him," said Bryant's sister Johnnal after the execution.

Glivar's widow Debbie said she would never forgive Mitts.

Mitts' friend Gary Hopkins joined ministers Edward Jenkins and Lucian Piaskowiak on the inmate's side of the witness room.

All of the witnesses watched in silence as Mitts slipped away.

Mitts began his hours-long rampage on the evening of Aug. 14, 1994 by firing a laser-sighted round into Bryant's chest as Bryant and his girlfriend were returning home from grocery shopping.

Bryant, who was black, and his girlfriend, who was white, were walking from the parking lot to their apartment when Mitts approached the couple.

He raised his gun, uttered racial slurs and shot 28-year-old Bryant point blank. Against Mitts' orders, neighbors carried Bryant to a second-floor apartment and waited for help to arrive.

Mitts then walked away, randomly firing his weapon, and prepared for the imminent police response. Mitts hoped for a suicide by cop, according to Ohio Parole Board documents.

Mitts fired eight to 10 rounds at the first patrol car to approach the complex and then fled to his first-floor apartment.

Glivar and Kaiser arrived soon after and located Bryant, who bled out before they arrived. The officers returned downstairs to ensure the building was safe for paramedics to enter.

That is when Mitts, who clenched a .44 Magnum in one fist and a 9 mm pistol in the other, sprung open his apartment door and let loose a volley of gunfire.

Glivar, 44, was shot seven times. Bullets ripped through his heart, lung, liver, kidney and stomach. He collapsed near the door, dropped his shotgun and died within minutes.

Kaiser was shot in the chest and hand but managed to force Mitts to retreat by firing in the killer's direction. Kaiser then took cover upstairs and kept watch on Mitts' apartment.

"We didn't even know he lived there," Kaiser said Tuesday. "He was just waiting for us. Maybe he was looking through his peephole. He took us by surprise."

Kaiser tried to talk Mitts into surrendering. Mitts refused.

"The only way we're going to end this is if you kill me," Mitts shouted, according to clemency documents. "You have to come down. You have to do your job and you have to kill me."

Minutes later, Maple Heights Police Officer John Mackey arrived at the complex and helped Kaiser rescue tenants upstairs by guiding them down a ladder propped against a back window.

Mackey and Kaiser then took positions outside Mitts apartment while the gunman fired sporadic shots using Glivar's dropped shotgun and weapons from his home arsenal.

At one point, Mitts was able to pick out Mackey's location by the sound of the officer's voice carrying through the hallway.

Mitts fired through a wall and hit Mackey.

The bloody gun battle ended hours later when a SWAT team shot tear gas into Mitts' apartment and subdued the wounded triggerman.

Mitts was charged with the aggravated murders of Bryant and Glivar, and the attempted murders of Kaiser and Mackey.

Three months later, the man with no previous criminal record was sentenced to death.

Authorities found thousands of rounds of ammunition in Mitts' home and a bumper sticker that read: "Gun control means hitting what you aim at."

The Ohio Parole Board said Mitts' deadly confrontation is "clearly among the worst of the worst capital cases."

Mitts began to tailspin in the weeks leading to the massacre. He began stalking his ex wife and her new husband, and admitted he thought about assassinating the man.

Prosecutors argued Mitts' attack was racially motivated, but defense attorneys contended Mitts killed Bryant only to lure police.

Last week, Gov. John Kasich denied Mitts clemency, siding with the parole board's unanimous recommendation to carry out the death sentence.

Mitts told the parole board in August he found God while incarcerated at the Cuyahoga County Jail and looked forward to living "in perpetuity with Jesus Christ" after his execution.


From Death Row to Life Row

By Harry Mitts

Life just wasn’t working out the way I thought it should. After two failed marriages, I was hurting and bitter. Other than visiting my daughter, I really didn’t feel that I had any purpose in life.

One day, after fishing in my favourite pond, I stopped off at a hardware store to buy some fishing gear. Straying to the back of the store, I came to a glass case that held handguns. Intrigued, my eyes settled on a 9 mm Ruger.

After several trips back to the store, I finally bought it. I soon bought two more handguns and purchased a membership at an indoor range. The owner got to know me and when the booths were full, he allowed me to shoot with police officers on a separate range.

Once the officers got to know me, we would sit together after closing, and they would talk about tactics they used during standoffs and such. I didn’t see it at the time, but all this was laying the groundwork for something terrible down the line.

Sunday, August 14, 1994, was much like any other Sunday. I had planned on going fishing, but it was raining heavily, so I went to the range instead. Upon returning home I tossed my weapons into the closet and poured a shot of bourbon into a tall glass. I can still see the liquid in the bottom of the glass, but I don’t remember drinking it.

I don’t know where I went for the next hour or so, but I do know that when I snapped back to reality, the bourbon bottle was lying empty on the kitchen table and I was sipping scotch out of another bottle. I also had my .44 Magnum holstered on my side, loaded with a speed loader as backup. The .22 Buckmark was loaded with an extra clip and my daughter’s small cooler was loaded with extra ammunition. The 9 mm was loaded with hollow point ammunition and holstered in the small of my back.

There was a battle raging inside me. One part of me said to put the weapons away and get ready for work in the morning, while another part said, “What do you have to lose—go for it!”

Evil won out and when the smoke cleared, two people were dead. One was an African-American, who was returning from the grocery store, and the other was a police officer, who had answered a “man-down” call. Two other police officers were wounded but would live. All the suppressed evil of 42 years had come out. No-one truly knows the meaning of remorse until they’ve taken another person’s life. I’ve taken two!

After a short stay in the hospital for wounds I sustained in the gun battle, I was transferred to a jail. Because I had a broken left foot and my leg was in a cast from a gunshot wound, I was sent to the hospital floor. It contained 20 cells with steel doors, all of which were filled. Additionally, 20 more men were sprawled out on the floor.

Everyone was angry with me—even the other prisoners. Half were breathing threats at me because I’d killed a black man and the other half were yelling at me because I’d killed a police officer. Day in and day out, night after night, it was the same routine: yelling and screaming. I couldn’t get any rest.

There was nothing in my cell but a bunk, a toilet and a window. I watched window washers for entertainment. I felt angry and all alone. If there had been some way to kill myself, I think I would have done it to get rid of the pain inside.

I had put my own family through so much grief. What did my poor daughter think of me? How crushed she must have felt. And how the victims’ families must have hated me! I long ago lost count of the many times I closed my eyes and hoped that when I opened them, the nightmare would be gone. But it was real. It was like nothing I’d ever experienced before. I was filled with anger and fear. It was overwhelming.

Just when I thought I couldn’t take any more of the torture, someone slipped a scrap of paper under my door. It read, “Jesus loves you, and so do I.”

I thought to myself, Oh no, now I have Jesus freaks coming at me too!

I tossed the note on top of my bunk and went back to looking out the window. A short time later, another note came under the door. This one said that Jesus forgave me.

I remember shouting that if God really did exist, He would never have allowed me to kill the people I did! To me, God was Someone I was going to have to deal with when I died and as for Jesus, He looked nice hanging on a cross at church, but He never meant anything more to me than that.

A day or so later, an envelope was slipped under the door and it was heavy. I thought, Finally, I have something to read. It held a five-page letter from someone who said that something had happened to him that was similar to what had happened to me. The only difference was that he hadn’t stepped over the edge like I had. Instead, he said that someone opened his eyes to God’s grace through the precious blood of Jesus.

He went on to explain how I could also be forgiven. He sent me tracts to read and while they were interesting, I really didn’t know what they were talking about. The tracts explained how sin would send me to hell, but I thought that if this prison cell wasn’t hell, I didn’t know what it was!

However, the man kept sending me letters of encouragement and more tracts, and I kept reading them. Every time I laid down to sleep, my thoughts alternated between the haunting memories of that night and the tracts I was reading about Jesus.

I don’t remember the exact moment, whether it was late at night or during the day, but I do remember that I was on my knees asking God to forgive me, to wash me clean of all my transgressions, to purge me of my wickedness. I remember clear as a bell that a life force, which I believe was God’s Holy Spirit, purged me of my wickedness. I felt an almost physical cleansing from the top of my head to the toes on my feet.

I believe that at that very moment, my name was written in the Lamb’s book of life and my life has never been the same since. No longer was it a void. The emptiness I had experienced all my life was now filled.

On November 21, 1994, a judge sentenced me to death. After I was sentenced and the guards walked me back to my cell, people along the way looked at me as if it was the last time they would see me. When I got back to my pod, two ministers were waiting for me and presented me with a gift-wrapped box. Inside was a family-sized Bible with my name—Don Mitts—written in gold in the lower right-hand corner. It was like the Bible I’d always dreamed of owning! Only my family and friends knew me as Don Mitts, so I figured it must have been given to me by my siblings or in-laws.

But when I opened the Bible and read the inside of the front cover, I nearly collapsed. It was from the mother and sister of the police officer I had killed! Tears of joy flowed, for this wonderful gift was a loving testimony of forgiveness!

This year will mark my eighteenth year on death row and the once pristine Bible is now battered and worn, but I still use it every day. I praise God for His loving-kindness, for pulling me out of darkness and for restoring me to Himself through the blood of Jesus shed for me on the cross of Calvary. The proof is the Holy Spirit who dwells within me.

This is not the end of the story, but only the beginning: I no longer live on death row but on life row, and that’s for eternity.


Family of victim gave killer Bible for comfort

By JoAnne Viviano - The Columbus Dispatch

September 23, 2013

If Ohio executes Harry Mitts Jr. on Wednesday as scheduled, the condemned man will leave behind a tattered, worn Bible he received in 1994 from an unlikely source.

Mitts said his eyes filled with tears and he nearly collapsed when he learned that the Bible, inscribed with his name, was a gift from the mother and sister of Sgt. Dennis Glivar, the 44-year-old Garfield Heights police officer he had killed about three months earlier.

Though Mitts had not thought about religion for most of his life, the gift helped point him toward Christianity, said Jeff Kelleher, his attorney. “It affected him deeply.”

Mitts received the Bible through a jail chaplain on the day his death sentence was handed down in Cuyahoga County in 1994. He also received a letter from Glivar’s sister, Cheryl Janoviak, telling him that she and her mother had forgiven him.

“What my mom and I did was only a portion of what God desired to draw Mr. Mitts to the cross and the saving, redeeming, wonderful, cleansing grace that is available to all,” Janoviak, of Newbury in Geauga County, said last week.

“God works through people, but ultimately it is the Holy Spirit and his love that satisfies. Unfortunately, in this case, it took a tragedy to get (Mitts’) attention and hear God calling him."

Mitts wrote The Dispatch last year from Death Row at the Chillicothe Correctional Institution. He told of his reaction to receiving the Glivar family’s gift and said “their loving forgiveness is a living testimony.” He said faith has made him ready for his execution.

“I look forward to that date, should it happen,” he wrote. “I know it probably sounds strange, as most folks like to hang on to this life as long as possible, but my reason for desiring to be executed is simple. I’ll be in the presence of Jesus, and I will never sin against God again!”

Mitts, now 61, shot Sgt. Glivar at least seven times on Aug. 14, 1994, when the officer and others responded to a report of a shooting at an apartment complex. John Bryant — the man who was shot — was an acquaintance of Mitts’, the boyfriend of a fellow tenant. Bryant was black, and witnesses said that Mitts, who is white, threatened another man before using a racial slur and firing a fatal gunshot into Bryant’s chest.

Mitts was convicted of both slayings and received two death sentences.

“As Jesus forgave and still forgives, my mother and I also forgive you,” Janoviak wrote to Mitts in 1994. “Had you died on August 14, 1994, your eternal home would have been in hell. In God’s mercy, your life was spared, and He spared your life to allow you this time to choose where you want to spend eternity.”

Mitts read the letter last month to the Ohio Parole Board in advance of a clemency hearing. Calling Mitts’ case “clearly among the worst-of-the-worst capital cases,” the board unanimously recommended that Gov. John Kasich deny mercy.

Janoviak said she and her mother plan to attend the execution. When asked whether they support clemency for Mitts, she referred to a Bible verse from the book of Romans: “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.”

A report on the clemency hearing indicates that Mitts told parole-board members that he has tried to spread God’s word to others while behind bars and that he is prepared to go home to Jesus.

According to the report, Kelleher also spoke to the board, saying that Mitts honored the wishes of his victims by following Glivar’s family’s admonition to embrace God.

In that way, Kelleher told the board, Mitts and his victims are forever connected.


Board rejects mercy for ‘racist cop killer’

By Andrew Welsh-Huggins - Associated Press

August 27, 2013

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio Parole Board on Tuesday rejected mercy for a condemned killer who shot two people, including a police officer.

The board ruled unanimously against recommending clemency for death row inmate Harry Mitts Jr., saying it wasn’t convinced he had taken full responsibility for the crime.

The board also rejected Mitts’ claim that the shooting of his first victim wasn’t racially motivated, noting that he used racial slurs before killing John Bryant, who was black.

“Given the multiple deaths, the racial animus underlying Bryant’s death, and the law enforcement victims Mitts targeted, Mitts’s case is clearly among the worst of the worst capital cases,” the board said.

Mitts, 61, is scheduled to die next month after being convicted of shooting the pair, including a Garfield Heights police sergeant, outside Cleveland in 1994.

He told the parole board in an interview earlier this month he’ll accept whatever decision it makes.

Much of Mitts’ parole board hearing last week focused on whether the killings were racially motivated.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty dismissed Mitts’ claims that he was not a racist.

“He is a racist cop killer who is deserving of his punishment,” McGinty said in a motion presented to the board asking it to deny clemency.

Mitts is remorseful and accepts responsibility for what he did, his attorney, Jeff Kelleher, told the board. He denied that Mitts was racist.

“Mr. Bryant died not because he was black,” Kelleher said Monday in an interview. “He died because he had the misfortune of meeting a man who became unhinged in the summer of ’94.”

Mitts was also convicted and sentenced to die for killing Sgt. Dennis Gliver, who was white.

Kelleher said he disagrees with the defense put on by Mitts’ original lawyer, who blamed Mitts’ drinking for the shootings.

“He acknowledges he was drinking and was intoxicated, but he knew what he was doing, and he acted intentionally, and that’s part of his full acceptance of responsibility,” Kelleher said.

The board wasn’t convinced by that argument, saying even though that tactic didn’t work at Mitts’ trial, it’s unclear what other strategy could have produced a different result.

The state’s supply of its execution drug, pentobarbital, expires at month’s end, and Mitts will be the last person put to death with that drug in Ohio if his execution is carried out.

The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction has said it will likely announce its new execution method by Oct. 4.



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