Huron man has date with death

MANSFIELD Former Huron resident Christopher Newton sits on death row at the Mansfield Correctional I
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



Former Huron resident Christopher Newton sits on death row at the Mansfield Correctional Institution impatiently waiting to die.

The murder he was convicted of committing is so heinous it chills the blood. That is why he wants to be executed as soon as possible.

Newton, 37, is past due to be lethally injected and wrapped in a body bag. He was scheduled to die Feb. 27, but Gov. Ted Strickland granted him and two other death row inmates reprieves to allow for a review their cases.

Newton is on death row for the November 2001 murder of Jason Brewer, his cell mate at Mansfield. It was a murder fit for the cannibalistic movie character Hannibal Lecter.

Richland County Prosecutor James Mayer and Assistant Prosecutor Kirsten Gartner laid out the entire scene of events for the State of Ohio Parole Board on February 9.

"On Oct. 16, 2001, Newton, claiming that another inmate had threatened to stab him, requested that he be placed in protective custody," the prosecutors shared with the board. "He was assigned to cell 115 with Jason Brewer in a section reserved for inmates who request special protection."

Brewer, 27, was 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighed 130 pounds. Newton was 5 feet 11 inches and weighed 195 pounds.

The prosecutors said that at about 5:10 a.m. Nov. 15, 2001, correctional officers responded to a disturbance in cell 115. Brewer was lying in a puddle of blood with a piece of orange cloth wrapped around his neck. Newton was laughing and had blood smeared all over his face.

Mansfield nurse Trena Butcher testified that when she examined Newton, he told her that he had "painted himself with the victim's blood and ingested it as part of a ritual when you kill someone."

While emergency medical personnel worked to save Brewer's life, Newton yelled, "let him die, I killed him," Butcher testified. Testimony from corrections officers revealed that Newton strangled Brewer with a piece of cloth from his prison suit and stomped on his head and chest several times while he begged for his life.

Officers also testified that Newton waited at least an half-hour before notifying a corrections officer. "Welcome to the house of death," is what officers testified Newton shouted when they entered cell 115.

Now Newton does sit in the house of death. On a frigid, rain-soaked, cloudy April morning, the man who wants to die talked to the Register about his plight and accepted responsibility for his crime.

Much bigger than when he committed his crime, but seemingly well-read and competent, he talked openly while shackled to the floor of a break room in the death row section.

"I've gained about 100 pounds since I have been here on death row," he said, while displaying the nervous giggle some mistake for a sign of enjoying the crime he committed. "Pretty much from the inactivity. I don't eat much and usually skip breakfast so I can sleep in."

His crime he attributes to the unwritten laws of prison life and his days as a Satanist.

"Not a lot really led up to it. When you are in a cell with somebody, and if you put your hands on them and decide to sleep, you might not wake up," Newton said. "I put my hands on him earlier in the day and, rather than go to sleep and have the possibility of not waking up, I decided to take care of the problem just so I could get some sleep. That pretty much led to me coming to death row."

The dark side of his life is something Newton does not shy away from explaining.

"I was a Satanist back then and I am no longer a Satanist," he said, adding that the method of killing and blood ingestion "was part of a ritual when you kill somebody. But that has no bearing on my life anymore."

Newton is even philosophical about how becoming a Christian has allowed him to come to terms with his death sentence.

"I felt the need to become a Christian because I had felt the need to get away from Satanism for years," he said. "I made the final step last year and accepted Jesus Christ."

And how does Newton view the crime he committed through the eyes of his newfound Christianity?

"It is hard to comprehend because I tend to think that If I hadn't killed him, I would have never came to know Jesus Christ," Newton said. "I question God about it. If you knew that this is what it would take for me to come to know you again, then why did you let it happen? Is his life not worth as much as mine? It is hard to comprehend that still."

Newton is scheduled to die May 24 and is ready. He is not happy with Strickland's reprieve.

"You have to take responsibility for your actions. I am not looking to be saved or get another reprieve," he said. "My family had already made it to the acceptance stage when the reprieve was granted. Now they have to go through everything again. I have made my peace. I'm ready to accept the responsibility for my actions."