DeWine holds off on executing East Cleveland’s Gregory Lott and 2 other men

CLEVELAND, OH – When Gregory Lott was sentenced to die on November 19, 2014 for his July 12,1986 killing of John McGrath it was because he “allegedly” had picked the wrong Irish Catholic.  McGrath’s home had been broken into and someone beat, tied him up and then doused him with heating oil and set his body on fire.  He survived until police arrived to identify his suspect as a light-skinned black man.  He died days later of pneumonia after complications for his wounds.  

Judge James McGrath served on the Cuyahoga County court of common pleas.  Mayor Frank Jackson’s safety director, Mike McGrath, was a Cleveland cop.  Kevin McGrath was an ATF agent. 

Ohio’s way of executing incarcerated citizens on death has been challenged like other states as inhumane. People are supposed to die painlessly.

Had Lott known how ex-Irish Catholic prosecuting attorney Jack Hudson twisted words to get the death penalty against a man named Dorian Hill who killed Alex Lesko, he would have understood the anti-Protestant and “inquisition” mindset of Irish Catholic law enforcement officers who sought to punish him as an American Protestant who was Black for daring to commit an offense against one of them. 

Irish Catholics sided with Adolph Hitler over the Irish Protestants during World War II.  A Black Protestant didn’t have a chance against anti-Protestant Democratic Catholic law enforcement officers in this county.  It took the 8th District Court of Appeals to untwist Hudson’s words to get his death penalty overturned and orders for McGrath to sentence him to life in prison. 

That’s the anti-Protestant climate Lott and other Protestants faced in this Catholic-controlled majority Protestant county for being “suspected” of taking the life of the Irish Catholic McGrath in East Cleveland.  Protestant African Americans and German Americans make up over half of the county’s 1.1 million population.  Protestants get jail in this county.  496 Catholic church sex offenders got a Catholic prosecutor and judge to seal evidence of their crimes.

Angel Diaz was executed by Florida officials and it took 34 minutes for him to die while his body was wracked with pain. Seven percent of all executions end up with prisoners dying in pain.

Three Irish Catholic judges sentenced the American Protestant to death.  James F. Kilcoyne.  Jame F. McMonagle and James F. McGrath.  Of course McGrath said there was no relation when he joined the other two Catholic judges to give Lott his date with an electric chair.  There was no proof tying Lott to the  murder.

This writer remembers the McGrath – Lott story and covered it in his “Independent” newspaper between 1986 and 1988.  Darryl Pittman served as the city’s mayor.  Edward Barko and Richard Vaughn were Pittman’s police chiefs.

Lott’s alleged victim, McGrath, lived on Ardenall Street and told East Cleveland’s detectives his attacker was a light skinned Black man with long hair.  The Plain Dealer racistly-slanted its reporting on McGrath’s death and derisively identified his attacker as “a light skinned black.”  The word “man” wasn’t added after the word “black.”  Lott is not light-skinned and his hair was short at the time of his arrest. 

Kareem Jackson’s death row date has been pushed back again. His attorneys abandoned him during trial.

The two Catholic Cleveland detectives of Eastern European ancestry who arrested  the American Protestant, Jerome Oberstar and Peter Mahovlich, claimed they were on their way to get a signature for a warrant when Lott drove by them in McGrath’s car.  They claimed to have recognized Lott from a “composite sketch.” 

The warrant may not have been signed when they made the arrest.  The two detectives added an 86-year-old woman’s beating to Lott and implied he was a suspect in other beatings of seniors though he had no previous record of any violence.  Only burglary.  They also had no proof.

Mike McGrath had already left East Cleveland’s police department and was working for Cleveland; but he still had connections to the department and it was suspected but unconfirmed that the two were related.  The Plain Dealer identified a brother as his only surviving relative. 

Lott had two court-appointed attorneys who half-azzed represented him.  James Kersey and Elmer Guiliani.   The docket doesn’t show much pre-trial activity.

Cleveland Ramon Jackson is another citizen with an execution date Governor Richard Michael DeWine has postponed.

The McGrath judging Lott with the other two Irish Catholic judges agreed with the Irish Catholic prosecutor to suppress evidence that mitigated the Protestant’s guilt.  Lott didn’t learn that McGrath failed to identify him as a suspect until after he was sentenced to death by the three extremely racist Irish Catholic Democratic judges. It also shows the quality of legal representation he had in Catholics Kersey and Guiliani because the information about the real suspect’s complexion was identified in the Plain Dealer article about McGrath’s death.

The only evidence connecting Lott to McGrath was a pair of shoes Cleveland and East Cleveland detectives could have taken out of his home and placed in the car.  Even before they knew his suspected identity the detectives were tying Lott in the Plain Dealer to four other elderly beatings without proof.

DeWine’s decision to halt Lott’s execution isn’t because of all the discrepancies above.  It’s because of a federal suit challenging how Ohio kills citizens on death row.  The medical protocol doesn’t insure the person feels no pain while they’re dying.  Lott is one of three “recent” men whose death sentence dates the Irish Catholic governor held off until next year.  DeWine has pushed dates forward on other scheduled executions because of the federal claim.

But unlike Lott there appear to be no mitigating issues in the other two death row sentences DeWine chose not to send forward last week.  Kareem M. Jackson of Columbus didn’t know he’d been sentenced to death after his lawyers abandoned him, but he’s actually the brutal killer of two men  The problem is his legal representation wasn’t competent. 

In addition to abandoning him, his attorneys missed filing deadlines.  Questions remain only about his intellectual capacity to have understood the legal issues for which he had to make decisions without competent legal representation.

It’s the same for Cleveland Ramon Jackson who was convicted of the murder of three-year-old Jalya Grant and 17-year-old Leneshia Williams during a robbery on January 3, 2000, in Lima, Ohio. Cleveland has spent the last 13 years of his life on Ohio’s death row.  He and another man robbed Shane Liles and opened fire on everyone in the house with the intent of killing them over “weed” because their faces had been seen.

The executions are not ended.  They’re just rescheduled until a humane protocol for killing citizens sentenced to death is identified.

Eric Jonathan Brewer

Cleveland's most influential journalist and East Cleveland's most successful mayor is an East Saint Louis, Illinois native whose father led the city's petition drive in 1969 to elect the first black mayor in 1971. Eric is an old-school investigative reporter whose 40-year body of editorial work has been demonstrably effective. No local journalist is feared or respected more.

Trained in newspaper publishing by the legendary Call & Post Publisher William Otis Walker in 1978 when it was the nation's 5th largest Black-owned publication, Eric has published and edited 13 local, regional and statewide publications across Ohio. Adding to his publishing and reporting resume is Eric's career in government. Eric served as the city's highest paid part-time Special Assistant to ex-Cleveland Mayor Michael R. White. He served as Chief of Staff to ex-East Cleveland Mayor Emmanuel Onunwor; and Chief of Communications to the late George James in his capacity as the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority's first Black executive director. Eric was appointed to serve as a member of the state's Financial Planning & Supervision Commission to guide the East Cleveland school district out of fiscal emergency and $20 million deficit. Former U.S. HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson told Eric in his D.C. office he was the only mayor in the nation simultaneously-managing a municipal block grant program. Eric wrote the city's $2.2 million Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant application. A HUD Inspector General audit of his management of the block grant program resulted in "zero" audit findings.

As a newspaper publisher, Eric has used his insider's detailed knowledge of government and his publications to lead the FBI and state prosecutors to investigations that resulted in criminal prosecutions of well-known elected officials in Ohio; and have helped realign Cleveland's political landscape with the defeat of candidates and issues he's exposed. Eric's stories led to the indictments of the late Governor George Voinovich's brother, Paul Voinovich of the V Group, and four associates. He asked the FBI to investigate the mayor he'd served as chief of staff for public corruption; and testified in three federal trials for the prosecution. He forced former Cuyahoga County Coroner Dr. Elizabeth Balraj to admit her investigations of police killings were fraudulent; and to issue notices to local police that her investigators would control police killing investigations. Eric's current work has resulted in Cuyahoga County Judge John Russo accepting the criminal complaint he guided an activist to file against 24 civil rights-violating police officers in the city he once led for operating without valid peace officer credentials. USA Today reporters picked up on Eric's police credentials reporting from his social media page and made it national.

Eric is the author of of his first book, "Fight Police License Plate Spying," which examines the FBI and local police misuse of the National Crime Information Center criminal records history database. An accomplished trumpet player and singer whose friendship with Duke Fakir of the Four Tops resulted in his singing the show's closing song, "Can't Help Myself": Curtis Sliwa of New York's Guardian Angels counts Eric among his founding chapter leaders from the early 1980's role as an Ohio organizer of over 300 volunteer crime fighters in Cleveland, Columbus and Youngstown, Ohio. For his work as a young man Eric was recognized by Cleveland's Urban League as it's 1983 Young Man of the Year.

Known in Cleveland for his encyclopedic knowledge of government and history, and intimately-connected with the region's players, every local major media outlet in Cleveland has picked up on one of Eric's stories since 1979. There is no mainstream newspaper, television or radio outlet in Cleveland that does not include an interview with Eric Jonathan Brewer in its archives over the past 40 years.


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