How big is too big for an execution? A federal court in Ohio must decide that question.
According to the Huffington Post, Ronald Post’s execution is set for January 16, 2013 for the 1983 shooting death of Helen Vantz, but at 480 pounds Post worries his weight could lead to a “torturous and lingering death.”
Post is currently in a Northern Ohio prison where he has served nearly 30 years. Post blames his obesity on his knee and back problems making it hard for him to exercise while imprisoned. Post says he received a denial on his request to receive gastric bypass surgery and is currently unable to walk to due to a risk of falling. In addition, Post blames severe depression for contributing to his inability to control his food intake.
Post tried to lose weight while at the Mansfield Correctional Institution by using “that prison’s exercise bike until it broke under his weight,” according to the court filing.
Ronald Post believes his severe obesity will make it hard to execute him stating his weight, vein access, scar tissue and other medical problems may lead to severe complications during his execution. In addition, lawyers stated in federal documents, Post might be too big for the execution gurney to hold him.
Post’s lawyers stated in court papers, “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 torturous and lingering death.”
The state of Ohio is set to execute Post using a single dose of pentobarbital, usually inserted through the arm. Post believes inserting the dose into his arm may be hard because in the past, medical personnel have had a hard time inserting IVs into Post’s arms. In one instance, medical personnel needed three attempts to insert an IV into Post’s left arm, state Post’s lawyers.
Post’s case is currently pending, and the Ohio prison department had no comment on the pending litigation.
Ronald Post is not the first person to raise the issue of how big is too big to be executed.
Similar cases include:
- In 2008, Richard Cooey, convicted of double homicide, argued that at 267 pounds he was too big to receive a lethal injection. Cooey argued that the execution team would have a hard time finding a viable vein. Cooey’s argument was rejected and he was eventually executed on October 14, 2008.
- In 2007, Ohio executioners took two hours to insert IVs into, 265 pound, Christopher Newton. Following the execution a prison spokewoman said Newton’s size was the issue.
- In 1994, a Washington federal judge ruled Mitchell Rupe, at 400 pounds, was too big to be hanged. The judge stated the hanging would leave Rupe at risk for decapitation and constitute cruel and unusual punishment. Rupe eventually died in 2006 while serving a life sentence in prison.
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