Friday 15 November 2019

Man who weighs 34 stone says he's too fat to execute

Yesterday he claimed his weight and other medical issues raise the likelihood his executioners would encounter severe problems.
Yesterday he claimed his weight and other medical issues raise the likelihood his executioners would encounter severe problems.

Andrew Welsh-Huggins in Columbus, Ohio

AN OHIO man on death row who weighs 480 pounds (218kg or 34 stone) and has a history of difficulty losing weight argues he would face a "torturous and lingering death" should his execution go ahead.

Ronald Post is due to be put to death in January for murdering a hotel clerk in northern Ohio almost 30 years ago.

But yesterday he claimed his weight, vein access, scar tissue, depression and other medical issues raise the likelihood his executioners would encounter severe problems.

He's also so big that the execution trolley might not hold him, lawyers for Post said in federal court papers filed yesterday.

Post (53) is scheduled to die on January 16 for the 1983 shooting death of Helen Vantz. A spokeswoman for the prisons department had no comment. Post's attorneys also want more time to pursue arguments that claims of a full confession by the inmate to several people have been falsely exaggerated.

"Post's case is about more than his weight, and his life should be spared for reasons wholly unrelated to his obesity," his federal public defender, Joseph Wilhelm, said in a statement. Inmates' weight has come up previously in death penalty cases in Ohio and elsewhere.

Condemned

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.

In 2007, it took Ohio executioners about two hours to insert IVs into the veins of condemned inmate Christopher Newton, who weighed about 120 kilogrammes.

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 180 kilogrammes, he was too heavy to hang because of the risk of decapitation.

After numerous court rulings and a third trial, Rupe was eventually sentenced to life in prison, where he died in 2006.

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 centre 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.

Post's request for gastric bypass surgery has been denied, he's been encouraged not to walk because he's at risk of falling, and severe depression has contributed to his inability to limit how much he eats.

Irish Independent

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