At 450 pounds, Ohio killer fights execution

At about 450 pounds, Ohio death row inmate Ronald Post is so fat that his executioners won't be able to find veins in his arms or legs for the lethal injection, and he might even break the death chamber gurney, his lawyers say.
Associated Press
Dec 6, 2012

If the state is forced to use a backup method that involves injecting the drugs directly into muscle, the process could require multiple doses over several hours or even days and result in a grueling and painful end, they say.

Post, who gained close to 200 pounds on death row, is trying to stave off execution Jan. 16 for the 1983 killing of a motel clerk during a robbery, arguing that because of his obesity, an attempt to put him to death would amount to cruel and unusual punishment.

State officials say Post, 53, can be humanely executed under both Ohio's usual method and the untested backup procedure. The warden at the prison where the death chamber is situated even tested the gurney by piling 540 pounds of weights on it for two hours.

Post has not presented "sufficient evidence demonstrating that his obesity or other physical conditions will present a substantial risk that his execution cannot be conducted in a humane and dignified manner," Assistant Attorney General Charles Wille said in court papers.

A federal judge in Columbus will hold a hearing on Post's claim later this month.

Post's case is not without precedent: In 1994, a federal judge in Washington state ruled that convicted killer Mitchell Rupe, at more than 400 pounds, was too heavy to be hanged because he might be decapitated. After numerous court rulings and a third trial, Rupe was sentenced to life in prison, where he died in 2006.

If Post manages to stop his execution because of his weight, the legal precedent may not be far-reaching, because of the very small number of death row inmates who are that obese, said Deborah Denno, a Fordham University law professor and expert on lethal injection. And she said it is unlikely prisoners would begin stuffing themselves to try to fend off execution.

Richard Dieter, executive director of the Washington-based Death Penalty Information Center, which opposes capital punishment, predicted states will find a way around obesity claims by adjusting their execution procedures, perhaps by changing the drug or the dosage.

"Inmates probably will recognize that that's a thin straw to hang your hopes on," he said.

In 2007, it took Ohio executioners about two hours to insert IVs into the veins of condemned killer Christopher Newton, who weighed about 265 pounds.

At 6-foot-2½, Post weighed 260 pounds around the time he was moved to death row in 1985. His weight has gone up and down behind bars, and at one time he lost 150 pounds through dieting, his lawyers say.

But knee and back problems have made it difficult to exercise, his lawyers say. They also say Post's request for gastric bypass surgery was denied, he has been told not to walk because he might fall, and severe depression has contributed to his inability to control how much he eats.

The Ohio prison system would not comment on how Post gained so much weight behind bars. They said meals are served in reasonable portions and seconds are not allowed, and they provided copies of prison menus that list healthier options such as low-fat milk, vegetarian patties and mixed vegetables.

Inmates can buy sweet and salty snacks from the commissary.

A doctor who examined Post for the defense said Post does not have accessible veins in his arms, hands or legs.

"Given his unique physical and medical condition there is a substantial risk that any attempt to execute him will result in serious physical and psychological pain to him, as well as an execution involving a torturous and lingering death," Post's attorneys argue in court papers.

His lawyers have indicated they would fight any attempt by the state to employ a third possible procedure: the "cut-down" method, in which executioners cut into the condemned man's arms to find a vein. Ohio's execution policies don't call for such an approach, and it is unclear if the state can go ahead with such a procedure without court approval.

 

Comments

ladydye_5

Firing squad. Problem solved. No veins, no table, no worries.

BlueAngel

@ladydye5....EXACTLY... sit him in a chair...put a cover over his head... a cloth over his chest with a circle over his heart....get 5 sniper with 1 gun loaded only no one knows which is loaded and pull the trigger!! don't know how he got so fat in prision..they should look into the dietary ward!!

Cityslicker

Hold his fat arse down on the floor and give him a triple dose. Then go to the warden and have the dietary department re-evaluated.

Good 2 B Me

He had no mercy on the individual that he murdered in cold blood. Why the hell should we have mercy on him? Seriously!

Cowboy

Kill him the same way he killed his victim!

donutshopguy

Why didn't we starve him to death?

Kasey

First wipe the Kool-Aid smile off his face.
So what if the injection hurts? I bet his victim suffered.
So what if he gets beheaded by hanging? He'll be dead anyway.
Just put a couple bullets in him. Who cares.
Let's ask the victim's family if he should be allowed to live because "he got too fat". Whose fault is that, kiddo? Yours. Pay the price.

KnuckleDragger

Again, I call BS on the doctor who reported there were no accessible veins on Mr. Post. Again, I offer my serviced free to the state to get an IV in him. I started one on a 600 lb man the other day without much effort. Just because you can't see a vein doesn't mean it isn't there or is not accessible. May I suggest putting an IV in guided by Ultrasound? Having worked in an ER, we used to do this frequently on obese adults who were difficult to find a vein on. It is a simple procedure that you don't even need a physician to perform. Bye Bye Mr. Post.

jamo

Can't find a vein in his arm? Use the one in between his legs. Problem solved.

deertracker

Amazing how those that really have no respect for human life are so afraid of their own fate after committing the worst crime possible. I am not a big fan of the death penalty but in some cases it is just necessary! There's a few ways they can secure a vein with no problem. Some lawyer is simply taking advantage of the justice system for his own monetary gain.

KnuckleDragger

Amen deertracker, Amen. I've spent nearly 30 yrs in EMS and there are many ways to find a vein. Like I said, you can use a portable ultrasound machine. No muss no fuss. The physician who said he has no accessible veins is obviously being paid by the defense. There is more than one way to skin a cat.

Darwin's choice

Throw him in front of a train.

mikeylikesit

that may work but imagine the damage to the train..

JIMBO2

Central Line in his chest. Shoot enough drugs to kill a cow. In a couple minutes...Fat A$$ croaker.

mikel

maybe he could become a spokesperson for slim fast!

Simple Enough II

Couldn't we just get Judge Conway from Huron County Courts to provide one of the regular Heroin users he assigns community service to too inject the "Life Altering elixir", seems they know how to find a vein often enough!

SamAdams

This is just another taxpayer-paid attempt to delay punishment. It's sure too bad his victim didn't get the same opportunity, isn't it?

KnuckleDragger is absolutely right. Hospitals treat morbidly obese people all the time. There's no way that it would be impossible or even unduly painful to get that needle into a vein!

Ladydye_5 also has a point. Fat's not bullet proof! And a shot to the head or heart would cause a quick and painless death, which is the entire point here. The State is better than the murderer, and so doesn't torture its "victims" the way those earning the death penalty do. As long as his death is humane, what difference should the method make?

Right now, the only people suffering are the friends and family of the victim. Isn't it awesome how the State doesn't seem to have a problem with THAT?

wiredmama222

They have already said, as I pointed out, they can use the "cut down" method. So lay him on the floor with pads under him if necessary. He can be comfortable. He obviously has a bed of some kind in his cell, use that. Or get one of those carts they use to move large numbers of pallets and pad it. There are always solution that can be used.

He is stalling and enough is enough. Put this man to death. He has exhausted his appeals and he should die as scheduled. Why do all this "pussy footing" around. To the death chambers he does.

Don S

A $.50 bullit to the head would solve the problem. It will be fast and humane !!!!!!!!

he said she said

Hello
"Given his unique physical and medical condition there is a substantial risk that any attempt to execute him will result in serious physical and psychological pain to him, as well as an execution involving a torturous and lingering death." Really? Bet he didn't think of that when he killed the motel clerk. He deserves a lingering death.