Eighteen years after David M. Brewer was sentenced to death for kidnapping and murdering Sherry Byrne, her mother and husband watched the state inject three drugs into Brewer’s body to end his life.
“I hope that David Brewer today saw my daughter’s face and her plea for mercy as he left this world,” said Myrtle Kaylor, the victim’s mother.
“David Brewer had to die; he deserved nothing less than death,” said Joe Byrne, who had been married to 21-year-old Sherry Byrne for seven months when she was murdered and who had known Brewer when they were in a fraternity at Georgetown College in Kentucky. “He still, to this day, has not accepted full responsibility for his crime. “
Authorities said Brewer, who lived in the Dayton suburb of Centerville and managed a rental appliance store, lured Mrs. Byrne to a motel near Cincinnati. Brewer sexually assaulted Mrs. Byrne and then forced her into the trunk of his car.
After trying to choke and hang her, Brewer stabbed her 15 times on a Greene County farm road on March 21, 1985. He confessed to police five days later.
Mr. Byrne said Brewer had a “despicable infatuation” for Sherry Byrne and murdered her to try to cover up raping her.
In the execution chamber at the state maximum-security prison near Lucasville, Brewer did not make eye contact with those who witnessed the execution, including his sister, Debbie Rose; an uncle, Phillip Brewer; and the Rev. Thomas Miller of Mansfield.
In addition to Mr. Byrne and Ms. Kaylor, Greene County Prosecutor William Schenk witnessed the execution.
Asked by warden James Haviland if he wanted to make a final statement, Brewer, 44, replied: “Just that I’d like to say to the system in Ohio as far as the death row inmates are concerned there are some that are innocent. I’m not one of them, but there are plenty that are innocent. I hope the state recognizes that. That’s all I have to say.”
“Where’s the remorse?” Mr. Byrne said quietly.
Brewer was pronounced dead at 10:20 a.m. The execution was delayed for 10 minutes as execution team members fit the needles into Brewer’s arm.
“He’s free now,” said Mr. Miller, Brewer’s spiritual adviser.
Ohio now has 203 inmates on Death Row. Brewer became the seventh inmate executed since Ohio resumed capital punishment in February, 1999, after a lapse of 36 years.
Shortly after Brewer’s execution, Mr. Byrne referred to Brewer as a “monster” and fought back tears to explain how Brewer had killed his wife.
He noted that she had written “help me please” in lipstick on a scrap of paper and shoved it through the crack of the car’s trunk in hope of alerting motorists. Several tipped off police, which led to Brewer’s arrest.
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“Today, David Brewer went to sleep; that’s all it was,” said Mr. Byrne. “He’s not a victim.”
Mr. Byrne, who has remarried and now lives in New Jersey, said the memory of Sherry Byrne is why he has followed every detail of the case.
“She fought so hard to get back to us. I couldn’t sit by idly and let Brewer and his defenders continuously and wrongly re-victimize Sherry,” he said.
Mr. Byrne referred to Brewer’s state public defenders as “clowns” and accused David Bodiker, Ohio’s public defender, of presiding over an office that “did everything they could do to hide the truth.”
Mr. Byrne said Brewer’s attorneys took several “lies” by Brewer, including that Sherry Byrne had broken off an affair with him, and stated them as facts.
“Facts did not matter to these folks. Their only focus is on winning or delaying, and all they do is hurt all of us over and over again, and they’re not held accountable for their actions,” Mr. Byrne said.
Mr. Bodiker rejected the charge, saying he had no problems with how his office defended Brewer.
“Mr. Byrne criticizing our office is uncalled for and unacceptable. No one feels more sympathy for the victims than our people do. They’re compassionate about the victims and the defendant,” Mr. Bodiker said.
Ms. Kaylor said she will never feel “complete closure.”
“I will grieve for my daughter Sherry every day of my life,” she said.
- April, 22, 1959
- Middletown, Ohio
- April, 29, 2003
- Lucasville, Ohio
Cause of Death
- execution by lethal injection