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November 27, 2012

District court rejects 400-pound Ohio inmate's weighty effort to block execution

As reported in this AP piece, a "condemned killer trying to delay his execution because of his extreme weight hasn't raised enough new issues to warrant the legal challenge, a federal judge ruled Monday." Here are the basics of the case and ruling concerning the next scheduled execution in Ohio:

Death row inmate Ronald Post, who weighs more than 400 pounds, is asking the courts to stop his January execution on the grounds his weight could cause him to suffer severe pain during the procedure. Post is prohibited from challenging his execution by injection because he raised similar claims in his first set of federal appeals in 1997, Judge Lesley Wells said Monday in Cleveland.

In general, death row inmates are only allowed one federal appeal when alleging the same set of facts. Post "has not demonstrated in his new petition that his medical condition has changed so significantly, or that Ohio's new lethal injection procedures have changed so radically, since he filed his first petition in 1997 that his original core complaints are transformed into something new," Wells wrote.

However, the judge sent the question to a federal appeals court in Cincinnati for a final determination according to federal law governing this type of appeal. The state is opposing Post's requests to delay his execution....

Post's attorneys declined to comment Monday. They have previously argued that Post's medical condition hasn't been stable.  At issue, they say, is his condition around the time of his execution, not at the time of an original court challenge.  Post "could not have raised this claim in his earlier petition because the execution was not imminent and his physical and medical condition have not been stable in relation to an execution date," his attorneys wrote in earlier court filings....

Post has tried losing weight, but knee and back problems have made it difficult to exercise, his lawyers say.  They also say Post's request for gastric bypass surgery has been denied, he has been encouraged not to walk because he's at risk for falling, and severe depression has contributed to his inability to limit how much he eats.   A doctor who examined Post for his defense team says Post does not have accessible veins in his arms or hands because of his weight and could not receive a lethal injection in his legs because he is so obese.

November 27, 2012 at 11:43 AM | Permalink

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Comments

This is a very interesting case. I never would have thought someone's weight problem would save themselves from losing there life. Kind of crazy to think about it like that. My friend who is a court reporter told me about this case. I can't believe that they would worry about someone feeling pain. Couldn't they just give him a lethal injection?

Posted by: Mike Cornelia | Nov 27, 2012 1:46:26 PM

Mike,

You need to understand that some people are so opposed to the death penalty, such as judges and attorneys involved with convicted murderer Post, that they are employing a "by-all-means-necessary" end-justifies-the-means morality.

Here's an example of the mentality of two of the more well-known Supreme Court justices of all time, attempting to prevent execution completely aside from the question of guilt of the accused:

"Justice MARSHALL, with whom Justice BRENNAN joins, dissenting.

* Adhering to my view that the death penalty is in all circumstances cruel and unusual punishment
prohibited by the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153, 231-241, 96
S.Ct. 2909, 2950, 2973, 49 L.Ed.2d 859 (1976) (MARSHALL, J., dissenting), I would vacate the
judgment of the Ohio Supreme Court insofar as it left undisturbed the sentence of death imposed
in this case."

Posted by: Adamakis | Nov 27, 2012 1:54:31 PM

Surely my thoughts will not resonate with uncritical, anti-DP aficionados, so for the rest:

Why has he lived 29 more years than his victim?

Because he was the victim of obesity?
Because his guilt was in doubt?

Because anti-death penalty obfuscators have fought to feed the beast? [the process and this person]

Here is Ronald Post's CV:

-> "Post shot Vantz twice in the back of the head as he robbed the motel where she worked,
making off with about $100 and a TV [and Mrs. Vantz’s purse]."
-> "Post confessed to Elyria detectives…[he] reportedly confessed to other inmates".
-> "He pleaded no contest to the murder charges…The unusual plea later became a focus of his appeals."
-> "Post was convicted of aggravated murder and aggravated robbery."
-> "The son of Post’s victim said last year that he’s still waiting for justice to be served for his mom, Helen Grace Vantz."

Posted by: Adamakis | Nov 27, 2012 2:01:05 PM

Question.

On death row, how does one come by enough food to maintain a 400 lb stature?

Do they have delivery?

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 27, 2012 11:45:45 PM

i have a good solution. Tell him he has 1,000 big macks to eat at one sititng. He'll be happy and quite dead before he can get them all down.

Posted by: rodsmith | Nov 28, 2012 2:26:41 AM

"This is a very interesting case. I never would have thought someone's weight problem would save themselves from losing there life."

A case some years back concerning a state that still left open the use of hanging raised such a concern. It is not likely to come up that much but then mundane cases aren't likely to be reported as much.

"I can't believe that they would worry about someone feeling pain. Couldn't they just give him a lethal injection?"

Worrying about feeling too much pain is sort of a core point to the 8A and Baze v. Rees. Anyway, the state uses lethal injection. The claim is that given his weight, it would not work well enough.

Another comment makes a comment about his weight. The article discusses the point some. As to the validity of the claim, it's probably a long-shot. Obese people, e.g., have surgery and use anesthesia. Kitchen sink claims are made in court all the time. This is just somewhat unique so it gets more press.

Posted by: Joe | Nov 28, 2012 11:47:02 AM

There was a death row inmate from Washington state named Mitchell Rupe who weighed over 400 pounds who went to federal court and got an injunction preventing the state from hanging him because of his weight. He was resentenced to life and died in prison.

Posted by: DaveP | Nov 28, 2012 6:31:39 PM

Rupe's death sentence was reversed on other grounds in addition to the weight issue by the district court. On appeal, the cruel and unusual punishment ruling was rendered moot by Washington's change to LI.

Posted by: DaveP | Nov 28, 2012 7:45:16 PM

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