Sister, Death Penalty Opponents At Funeral For Executed Man

CHILLICOTHE, Ohio (AP) - A man executed for raping and killing an 11-year-old girl was buried in a 10-minute service in a downpour Friday at a prison cemetery.

Robert Buell, 62, was the first of the five men executed since 1999, when Ohio resumed using the death penalty, whose relatives did not claim his body.

He was executed by injection Wednesday for killing Krista Harrison, who was abducted in 1982 from a park across the street from her home in Marshallville in northeast Ohio.

His sister, Carole Bye of Cincinnati, attended the service with her son. She said later that the family could not afford a funeral. She believes Buell was innocent.

A work detail of inmates carried Buell's casket to the grave site, which starts a new row in Boot Hill, the state prisons cemetery near Chillicothe Correctional Institution. Buell's headstone had not yet arrived.

Other small marble markers bear prisoners' names -- not inmate numbers -- and dates of birth and death.

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections said it would spend about $500 on the burial, including a $200 prison-made casket and $50 suit.

The rain stopped briefly while prison officials waited for Bye, but a downpour started when she arrived. She cried as she looked into Buell's open casket, which was then closed.

The ceremony was conducted by Dan York, the chaplain at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, where executions are carried out, and Ernest Sanders, the Baptist pastor who was Buell's spiritual adviser.

Bye, her son and the ministers stood in a small tent covering the grave. Three death penalty protesters, the inmates and prisons employees stood in the rain.

Bye said she didn't see her brother for about 10 years after he was convicted of raping and torturing adult women, which he acknowledged to police. She had a hard time forgiving him, but eventually did.

She said she believed Buell's assertions that he didn't harm children.

The prison burial was not upsetting, Bye said.

"It's just his body, not his spirit," she said.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)