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 on 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 on 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 directly 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, Dan Kobil, a Capital University law professor and expert on clemency.