Pa­role board rec­om­mends mercy for obese in­mate

Austin American-Statesman - - THE SECOND FRONT - Byan­drewwelsh-hug­gins

COLUM­bUS, OhIO — Ohio Gov. John Ka­sich must de­cide in about a month whether to spare a con­demned in­mate who weighs 450 pounds and whether the in­mate’s health should be part of his de­ci­sion.

The state pa­role board Fri­day rec­om­mended mercy for Ron­ald Post based on claims rais­ing doubts about his le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tion, not be­cause he says he’s so fat he can’t be hu­manely ex­e­cuted.

The board re­jected ar­gu­ments made by Post’s at­tor­neys that he de­serves mercy be­cause of lin­ger­ing doubts about his “le­gal and mo­ral guilt” in a woman’s death, but it said it couldn’t ig­nore per­ceived mis­steps by his lawyers.

The board’s rec­om­men­da­tion, by a vote of 5-3, goes to Ka­sich, who has the fi­nal say. Post is sched­uled to die Jan. 16 for killing Elyria mo­tel clerk He­len Vantz in a 1983 rob­bery.

“Post took Vantz’s life, dev­as­tat­ing the lives of her loved ones in the process,” the board said. But it said a ma­jor­ity of its mem­bers agreed his sen­tence should be com­muted to life in prison with­out chance of pa­role be­cause of omis­sions, missed op­por­tu­ni­ties and ques­tion­able de­ci­sions made by his pre­vi­ous at­tor­neys and be­cause that le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tion didn’t meet ex­pec­ta­tions for a death penalty case.

Post never raised his weight is­sue with the board but in­stead is ar­gu­ing in fed­eral court Mon­day that he would suf­fer “a tor­tur­ous and lin­ger­ing death” as ex­e­cu­tion­ers tried to find a vein or use a backup method where lethal drugs are in­jected into mus­cle.

Ka­sich can con­sider any­thing he wants, re­gard­less of court rul­ings or whether a claim — in this case Post’s weight — was made as part of the clemency pe­ti­tion, said Dan Ko­bil, a Cap­i­tal Univer­sity law pro­fes­sor and ex­pert on clemency.

Gov­er­nors in decades past would con­sider an in­mate’s youth and whether they had a men­tal dis­abil­ity, even be­fore ex­e­cut­ing ju­ve­niles and those with dis­abil­i­ties was ruled un­con­sti­tu­tional, Ko­bil said.

“That’s what clemency is there for, to take into ac­count the odd­ball case that doesn’t fall into the nor­mal sorts of pa­ram­e­ters of the law,” Ko­bil said.

Post’s cur­rent at­tor­neys said they were pleased by the rec­om­men­da­tion.

“In the nearly 30 years since his case be­gan, Ron­ald Post has too of­ten been failed by the at­tor­neys as­signed to rep­re­sent him, be­gin­ning at his trial,” pub­lic de­fend­ers Joe Wil­helm and Rachel Trout­man said in a state­ment.

Vantz’s sons, Wil­liam and Michael, have said they be­lieve in Post’s guilt. Wil­liam Vantz char­ac­ter­ized Post’s obe­sity claim as “an­other way for a coward to try and get out of what debt he owes to so­ci­ety.”

The long-held pre­sump­tion that Post con­fessed to the mur­der to sev­eral peo­ple has been falsely ex­ag­ger­ated, Post’s at­tor­neys ar­gued. Post ad­mit­ted involvement in the crime as the get­away driver to a po­lice in­for­mant but didn’t ad­mit to the killing.

“Sure ain’t no mur­derer,” Post told that in­for­mant, ac­cord­ing to Post’s clemency fil­ing.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.