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Cops and Courts

Grafton Correctional inmate's death ruled homicide


GRAFTON — Gerald Pierce, the 65-year-old inmate killed Sunday at Grafton Correction Institution, was beaten to death, according to Lorain County Coroner Stephen Evans.

Pierce died of massive head injuries caused by multiple blunt-force trauma, Evans said, adding that the inmate’s body was fine from the neck down. The death has been ruled a homicide, and Evans declined to say what, if any, weapon was used.

Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction spokeswoman Ricky Seyfang said that Pierce was killed during an altercation with his cellmate at the minimum and medium security prison. The two men had shared a cell since July.

“There was no indication of strife,” she said.

Ohio Highway Patrol Lt. Anne Ralston said the investigation into Pierce’s death is still ongoing and no one has been charged in the case.

Seyfang said Pierce was serving a sentence of 33 years to life on charges of aggravated murder and aggravated robbery out of Cuyahoga County when he was killed.

Pierce had some prison infractions, most recently for being in the wrong place, but those infractions were mostly minor, Seyfang said. Prison records indicated that Pierce had worked as a porter at the prison before he was killed.

The other inmate, who is also incarcerated on charges out of Cuyahoga County, has not been named because he has not been charged in the case. Seyfang said he was moved to another state prison designed to accommodate higher security risk prisoners.

Seyfang said Grafton Correctional was locked down for about a day following the killing, which took place around 4:30 p.m. Sunday. She said such measures are common. She said an internal review hasn’t turned up any wrongdoing by staff in the incident, but that investigation is still ongoing.

According to court records provided by Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty’s office, Pierce was tried and convicted for the Oct. 19, 1989, slaying of Timothy Weybrecht in Cleveland.

The records indicated that Pierce, who was admitted to prison in April 1990, and another man, Carthel Russell, met at a go go bar in the West 25th Street area and began bar hopping in the area with Pierce buying drinks.

At one bar Pierce, who was armed with a .38-caliber pistol, beat a man and as he and Russell were leaving that bar, Pierce told a woman he encountered that he should have killed her when he had the chance.

The pair finally arrived at a bar called Innkeeper’s, where they spotted Weybrecht, the court documents said. Pierce told Russell that a week earlier he had slapped the woman he had threatened to kill earlier in the day. Four men grabbed him after the slap and Weybrecht beat him.

On the day of the killing, the documents said, Pierce threatened Weybrecht at the jukebox before the two went back to sit with Russell and the three began drinking.

Russell then convinced the group to leave and the three men went outside and into an alley. Russell, who suffers from polio and was walking with a cane, tripped and as Weybrecht was helping him up, Pierce shot him with the .38.

The court documents said Pierce then holstered his weapon and he and Russell then began to leave.

As they drove away from the scene, Pierce laughed and told Russell he was glad he had killed Weybrecht, according to the documents. He was laughing so hard he hit another car and got a flat tire.

The pair then continued on their drinking binge before they were arrested later that night by Cleveland police officers.

Pierce was tried and found guilty by a jury, but spent years challenging his conviction in a string of motions he filed without the help of an attorney.

Russell pleaded guilty to felonious assault in the case and was sentenced to three to 15 years in prison.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or

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