On the second anniversary of the execution of John Byrd by the State of Ohio, February 19, the Byrd family’s civil attorney advised the Ohio attorney general’s office that a previously threatened wrongful death suit would not be filed against the state. 

“The family’s interest is in getting the truth out, not in getting monetary compensation for their loss. Investigative journalism and media coverage are better ways for getting at the truth than more litigation would be,” said Columbus attorney Cliff Arnebeck. “Exclusively focusing on getting to the truth will best serve the purposes of both proving John’s innocence and correcting flaws in the criminal justice system. This is far more important to the family and to our society than fault-finding for the purpose of obtaining monetary compensation.”

“Byrd’s mother, Mary Ray, and sister, Kim Hamer, will be working with investigative journalists in this mission,” Arnebeck said.

“John was privileged to have many prominent people in his corner: Tom Luken, U.S. attorney, former mayor and eight-term congressman from Cincinnati; Nathaniel Jones, former general counsel of the NAACP and distinguished jurist on the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, who wrote eloquently regarding the lack of due process and John Byrd’s case; the Ohio Public Defender David Bodiker, who spoke unequivocally of  Byrd’s innocence. But it was not enough to save John’s life.

“Political scientist, investigative journalist and attorney Bob Fitrakis has recently published a book, The Fitrakis Files: Free Byrd and Other Cries for Justice, featuring an award-winning series of articles on the Byrd case that Fitrakis co-wrote with private investigator and author Martin Yant. Fitrakis and Yant now plan to write a more in-depth book that will reveal important new evidence of John Byrd’s innocence. John’s family hopes this will help prevent the execution of any more innocent people.”