A condemned Ohio inmate who weighs at least 480 pounds wants his upcoming execution delayed, saying his weight could lead to a ‘torturous and lingering death.’ Ronald Post, who shot and killed a hotel clerk in northern Ohio almost 30 years ago, said his weight, vein access, scar tissue and other medical problems raise the likelihood his executioners would encounter severe problems. He’s also so big that the execution gurney might not hold him, lawyers for Post said in federal court papers filed on Friday. Indeed, 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,’ the filing said. Post, 53, is scheduled to die Jan. 16 for the 1983 death of 53-year-old Helen Vantz in Elyria who was robbed before found shot twice in the back of her head. The prisons department was not aware of the filing over his execution and could not immediately comment. Inmates’ weight has come up previously in death penalty cases in Ohio and elsewhere. In 2008, federal courts rejected arguments by condemned double-killer Richard Cooey that he was too obese to die by injection. Cooey’s attorneys had argued that prison food and limited opportunities to exercise contributed to a weight problem that would make it difficult for the execution team to find a viable vein for lethal injection. Cooey, who was 5-foot-7 and weighed 267 pounds, was executed Oct. 14, 2008. In 2007, it took Ohio executioners about two hours to insert IVs into the veins of condemned inmate Christopher Newton, who weighed about 265 pounds. A prison spokeswoman at the time said his size was an issue. In 1994 in Washington state, a federal judge upheld the conviction of Mitchell Rupe, but agreed with Rupe’s contention that at more than 400 pounds, he was too heavy to hang because of the risk of decapitation. Rupe argued that hanging would constitute cruel and unusual punishment. After numerous court rulings and a third trial, Rupe was eventually sentenced to life in prison, where he died in 2006.
Ohio executes inmates with a single dose of pentobarbital, usually injected through the arms. Medical personnel have had a hard time inserting IVs into Post’s arms, according to the court filing. Four years ago, an Ohio State University medical center nurse needed three attempts to insert an IV into Post’s left arm, the lawyers wrote. Post has tried losing weight, but knee and back problems have made it difficult to exercise, according to his court filing. While at the Mansfield Correctional Institution, Post ‘used that prison’s exercise bike until it broke under his weight,’ according to the filing. As an Ohio State diner, incarcerated for nearly the last 30 years, among the meals offered to inmates are options of non-pork and vegetarian meals, as well as a special alternative mixed loaf – the ingredients depending in the meal’s time – for segregated inmates. Regular meals are said to cost $1.70 each. While Ohio’s Department of Rehabilitation and Correction does offer a food package program available for purchase from outside sources, including everything from candy and pre-packaged pastries to pouched tuna fish, Post is ineligible for them. Upset about Post’s delayed execution last year, the victim’s son William Vantz published a letter with the Morning Journal expressing his family’s need for closure through Post’s own death, that has waited over 29 years. ‘I am now 54 years old, a year older than my mother at the time of her murder. We, my family and friends have waited too long for the day that he is executed for this heinous crime. Some did not live long enough to see the day that justice is served.’ Mr Vantz continues to resolve that no closure will come to him and his family from Post living out a life sentence behind bars.