Gregory Lott, Ohio

Updated: Monday, August 12, 2019  9:11 am EDT

Gregory Lott was scheduled to be executed at 10 am EST, on Wednesday, August 14, 2019, at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio. His execution has been rescheduled to Thursday, March 12, 2020. Fifty-four-year-old Gregory is convicted of murdering 82-year-old John McGrath during a robbery in his East Cleveland home on July 12, 1986. Gregory has spent the past 31 years on Ohio’s death row.

On July 12, 1986, a man, later determined by police to be Gregory Lott, broke into the home of John McGrath. The intruder tied up John, doused him with heating-lamp oil, and set him on fire. Police discovered John on July 15, 1986, when they went to his home to check on his welfare, following a report that an unknown person was driving his car. John had been badly injured but was still alive. Unfortunately, John died on July 23, 1986, from pneumonia arising from his injuries.

Lott was arrested on July 30, 1986, after his fingerprints had been found inside of John’s house and a shoe print found at the house was discovered to have matched a pair of shoes found in Lott’s car. Additionally, the person who saw an unknown person driving John’s car, a trained artist, identified the man as Lott. However, John had told police before he died that the man who broke in and tied him up was light skinned African-American who had long hair. Lott is medium to dark skinned at had very short hair at the time of his arrest. This information was allegedly not passed on to Lott’s defense team until after he was sentenced to death.

According to police, Lott eventually confessed to burglarizing the home twice: once previously, and once when John was attacked. Lott also confessed to tying John up. There is no evidence to this confession beyond the word of the police. Lott has steadfastly denied setting John on fire, which resulted in his death. Lott waived his right to a trial by jury, and was instead sentenced by a three-judge panel, which unanimously sentenced him to death.


This is not Gregory Lott’s first execution date. Gregory has received multiple prior execution dates; one in 2002, another in 2004, and two in 2014. The 2002 execution was stayed due to the new ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States which forbid the execution of mentally disabled persons. Gregory was eventually declared mentally competent and the execution was rescheduled for 2004. That execution was then stayed by the 6th UC Circuit Court of Appeals to consider if Gregory deserved a new trial because evidence had been withheld from the defense team at the original trial. US District Judge Kathleen O’Malley eventually refused to grant a new trial.


All following execution dates were stayed for various reasons regarding the execution protocol in Ohio. Over the past several years, Ohio has struggled to establish a satisfactory execution protocol. More information regarding Ohio’s execution protocol problems can be found here.  


Please pray for peace for the family of John McGrath. Please pray for strength for the family of Gregory. Please pray that if Gregory is innocent, lacks the competency to be executed, or should not be executed for any other reason, that evidence will be presented prior to his execution date.  Please pray that Gregory may come to find peace through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if he has not already found one.


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