Dave Anthony was 18 when Carl Lamont Bayless murdered his parents in a park on Akron’s west side. Bayless, then 17, abducted and robbed Anthony’s parents, made them kneel and shot them both in the back of the head. On Wednesday, Anthony, of Green and a third-generation owner of Anthony and Biscan Funeral Home, addressed several hundred people gathered on the west side of the Statehouse to protest Ohio’s death penalty.

Dave Anthony was 18 when Carl Lamont Bayless murdered his parents in a park on Akron’s west side. Bayless, then 17, abducted and robbed Anthony’s parents, made them kneel and shot them both in the back of the head.

That was in 1974. Bayless is serving a life sentence. A reporter who once wrote about Bayless called him a “stone-cold killer.”

On Wednesday, Anthony, of Green and a third-generation owner of Anthony and Biscan Funeral Home, addressed several hundred people gathered on the west side of the Statehouse to protest Ohio’s death penalty.

“Carl’s death would not solve anything,” Anthony told them. “I forgive him, but I won’t forget.”

Anthony said he wants Bayless kept in prison. His next parole hearing is in May 2009. Bayless had killed before, when he was 14. He also has escaped from prison and at one point was living in California working as a longshoreman before being caught.

“I don’t see the death penalty as a solution,” Anthony said in an interview. “I’ve never found it a comforting thought.”

He said Bayless was sentenced to death, but his sentence was commuted to life in prison. Anthony said he’s OK with that.

“I think my parents would have been of the same mind,” he said. “The scripture says forgiveness is a personal thing.

“Without my parents it was difficult,” Anthony said of his life and those of his five brothers and sisters. “We don’t talk about it. I’m really aware of death and death issues because of the business I’m in. They’re not vocal about it.”

Like others at the protest, Anthony said he thinks Gov. Ted Strickland should impose a moratorium on executions until problems spelled out by an American Bar Association study released earlier this week can be addressed.

“It doesn’t work financially, morally or racially,” he said.

Strickland, a former prison psychologist, said he will read the report. He said it’s a subject he takes seriously and he will continue to examine each execution case  “thoroughly and individually.” The next scheduled execution is that of Romell Broom in October, but it’s been stayed by the courts.

The daylong protest included a prayer service, teach-in and visits to legislators.

One of the speakers, Gary Beeman, was convicted, sent to death row and then exonerated. He said he could not have proved his innocence had it not been for the help of a Canton woman who devoted time to his case.

The Rev. Timothy Ahrens of Columbus, one of several religious leaders at the rally, said the death penalty is “ineffective, inequitable, irreversible, inhumane and tacky. It’s tacky because its ugly, disgusting, crude and doesn’t reflect the best of human nature. It’s wrong in the eyes of God.”

Canton Repository