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September 17, 2008

Too fat to execute using lethal injection?

Obesity, sex and death are all to be found in this CNN story, headlined "Weight gain not intentional to dodge execution, inmate says."  Here are the basics:

A double murderer scheduled to be executed next month in Ohio said Tuesday he has not deliberately gained weight to rule out his death by lethal injection. Instead, Richard Cooey said in a death row interview that his execution cannot be carried out humanely under current state procedures because his veins are hard to reach. "Vein access was an issue even when I was back in the service," Cooey, 41, said in an hour-long interview with the Associated Press at the Ohio State Penitentiary.

Cooey, 5-foot, 7 inches tall and 267 pounds, said he has gained perhaps 70 pounds while being locked up for raping and killing two University of Akron students 22 years ago while he was on leave from the U.S. Army.  He blamed the weight gain on medication and lack of exercise. "It's hard getting access to my veins," said Cooey, who was handcuffed and locked in a closet-sized visiting room. He spoke through a straw-sized slit in a reinforced glass partition.

Cooey said he has heard secondhand about comedians' jokes about the Ohio inmate who claims he's too fat to be executed. But he says that ridicule reflects ignorance of his underlying claim that it's the inaccessibility of his veins that makes it difficult to get an IV inserted for a lethal injection.

The legal challenge is based on constitutional issues and not fear of execution, Cooey said. "It has nothing to do with weight gain," he said. Instead of lethal injection, "If it would make people happy, shoot me in the head with a .45," Cooey said. "Do it legally."

September 17, 2008 at 01:08 PM | Permalink


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Given similar cases I really can't see him getting much traction with this argument. There are ways to get at a vein and are likely spelled out in the execution protocol.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Sep 17, 2008 2:59:06 PM

I dunno -- it seems like eating all day and never exercising would qualify as intentionally gaining weight... maybe it's just me.

Posted by: NewFedClerk | Sep 19, 2008 8:42:40 AM

I'm actually sympathetic to his non-intentionality argument, I've been on medications that greatly contributed to eating even when not particularly hungry. I just don't see that giving him a pass.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Sep 20, 2008 6:41:02 PM


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