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October 6, 2010

Ohio completes "record" eighth (uneventful?) single-drug execution of 2010

As detailed in this local article, which is headlined "Ohio executes record eighth man this year," the Buckeye State continues to demonstrate its willingness and ability to keep the machinery of death humming.  Here are some of the personal details about this record-setting execution:

The execution of Michael Benge will make headlines because he was Ohio's eighth lethal injection this year, a new record. But otherwise the storyline was similar to 40 others preceding it since 1999: drugs were to blame.

Benge, 49, of Hamilton, Ohio, died today at 10:34 a.m. at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility near Lucasville. While the drug that took his life, sodium thiopental, is in short supply nationally, the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction had an ample quantity on hand today to complete the grim task.

His last words, as family members of his victim looked on: "I can never apologize enough. ... I hope my death gives you closure.  That's all I can ask. Praise God and thanks."

After the execution Kathy Johnson, sister of the victim, said, "It makes us feel there was justice for my sister. That's what this was all about." When asked about Benge's last words, she said, "I don't feel like Mike Binge was remorseful. He has blamed everyone else but himself."

Binge was convicted and sentenced to death for beating his girlfriend, Judith Gabbard, 38, with a tire iron, then weighting down her body with concrete and dumping it in the Miami River.  The murder happened Jan. 31, 1993....

Benge's family said he wasn't a violent man, but drugs changed that.  According to records of his clemency hearing, the relationship between Benge and Gabbard soured when he began smoking crack cocaine.  He stole Gabbard's jewelry and other things to pawn to get money to feed his drug habit.

He became violent, with the aftermath of the beatings so obvious that she skipped family gatherings at the holidays in 1992 to avoid embarrassment.  They fought the night of the murder after drinking in a bar for several hours; Benge smoked crack.  Eventually, he stole her ATM card and beat her to death.  After disposing of the body, he swam across the river and hooked up with friends.  They used the card to drain $400 from Gabbard's bank account, records show.

Benge's attorneys said he began drinking alcohol when he was 11, and later moved on to marijuana and cocaine.  For his last meal, Benge ordered a large chef salad with ham, turkey and bacon bits, bleu cheese and ranch dressing, barbecue baby back ribs, two cans of cashews and two bottles of iced tea.

The last two sentences of this story lead me to wonder whether condemned inmates in Ohio or elsewhere are allowed to drink alcohol as part of their last meal. Gosh knows I would want to get plastered the night before I was due to be executed, and I would be inclined to let convicted murderers have some of the devil's juice in order to help ease their sleep during their last night alive. But, I suspect that most prison regulations prevent the condemned from having even legal intoxicants during their last meal, asn I suppose I can understand the logic (if not the legalities) of such a policy.

October 6, 2010 at 12:30 PM | Permalink

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Comments

I doubt alcohol is tolerated even under such circumstances but I'm pretty sure I've read that at least some states give the inmate the option of sedatives like Xanax.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Oct 7, 2010 12:48:30 AM

All violent offenders should be given the option of suicide, with first class Vegas party the night before, hookers, booze, cocaine, heroin. The state is allowed to do otherwise illegal acts, such as detain, murder, etc. None of these suggestions are cruel or harmful. But because, the lawyer dumbass thinks of himself as a virtuous high priest, we have solemnity, no fun, self-seriousness, church like courts, with church like silence and pretentiousness, church robes, church oaths, church standing and sitting over and over, church language in the form of Latin. In the US, we are just missing the wigs, and the pointed hats.

The problem? The lawyer is not a priest, and the law is not a religion. The lawyer is just a cult criminal running his con, to confiscate the ssets fo the productive and to continue the business model of the Inquisition. A big phony, only half a notch above the condemned in moral standing.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Oct 7, 2010 6:02:27 AM

So crack cocaine causes violent behavior? Isn't that at odds with every study done in the past 20 years that encouraged the decrease in federal crack cocaine mandatory minimums?

Only in the law can you have make one argument in one case and make the opposite argument in another with a straight face.

Posted by: Bill B. | Oct 7, 2010 10:08:04 AM

BillB,

Even if crack does cause violent behavior it could still be that the tendency is no greater than that for powder or that the increased tendency does not reach anywhere close to a 100 times threshold. Just because a behavior is worth penalizing (a point I would argue when it comes to drug possession or use) does not automatically indicate that the chosen level of punishment is in line with with the cost to society of the behavior.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Oct 7, 2010 11:16:22 AM

I hadn't thought about working for Ohio's prison system in a while. And then a friend posted something on facebook this evening about last meals before execution and what his would be (weird I know). Sitting here with a shot of knob creek, I thought, boy, I wonder if they'd give you a shot of whiskey if you were to ask, off the record of course (I doubt it, but I'd ask if I were there). The facebook posting made me remember the most interesting last meal I ever heard of. Robert Buell #801. Last meal: one unpitted black olive. Now, he denied the crime to the end. But powerful circumstantial evidence did him in. You can't cross examine a carpet or hair sample, now can you? So anyway, I thought, I wonder what Professor Berman is up to. And low and behold I visit your blog and see this entry. What a coincidence. Life strikes me as strangely interconnected sometimes.

Posted by: Greg | Oct 10, 2010 12:16:34 AM

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