AKRON, Ohio — Wayne Doyle, the man who beat 7-year-old Charlie Wright to death in 1987 in Akron, was denied parole at a full board hearing Wednesday afternoon.
On the night of April 22, 1987, Doyle, who was the boyfriend of Charlie's biological mother, grabbed the boy by the neck and threw him across the room.
About six hours later, around 3 a.m., Doyle inflicted another beating on Charlie in the basement of a home on East Exchange Street in Akron. Charlie suffered several broken bones and his small intestine ruptured, leading to an infection and his death.
The killing, which sparked outrage throughout the community, returned to the spotlight after an Ohio Parole Board panel recommended Doyle be released from prison. The recommendation from last October was unanimous, a 6 to 0 vote.
Hundreds of people signed a petition, organized by Block Parole Inc, opposing Doyle's release, and a Facebook post by the Summit County Prosecutor-- which also argued against parole-- was seen by 85,000 people, according to Brad Gessner, chief counsel for the office.
Dave Hanson, a public defender, said Doyle has taken responsibility for the killing.
"He told me a couple of times prison isn't as bad as reliving what I caused," Hanson told the board.
After 20 minutes of deliberating, the parole board announced a change of heart, denying parole by a 6 to 4 vote.
Charlie's brother, David Strittmatter, was also abused by Doyle. From his Akron home, Strtittmatter addressed the board in opposition to parole.
All of the board members recognized Strittmatter for having the courage to speak about the painful memories.
After the decision was made, Strittmatter clapped his hands and said he felt relief.
"It was honestly a huge weight lifting off. I didn't know how I'd feel," Strittmatter said. "If he (Charlie) was here, I'd say he'd be jumping up and down and he'd be happy, definitely be happy that he can't do it to anybody else."
Doyle's convictions for involuntary manslaughter, felonious assault and child endangering carried a sentence of 15 to 40 years. Doyle, who is now 68 years old, has served more than 33 years.
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