Prisoner Says He’s Too Obese for Death Penalty

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CLEVELAND -- Some Clevelanders have little sympathy for the Ohio prisoner who says he’s too obese to be put to death.

Ronald Post, 53, was convicted in the 1983 murder of Helen Vantz, who worked as a hotel clerk at the Slumber Inn in Elyria.

According to prosecutors, Post had visited the hotel with two other men, and then he returned alone. When Vantz let him in, Post shot her twice in the head and robbed her of $100.

He is scheduled to die Jan. 16.

But Post argues he’s too big to be put to death. He weighs more than 480 pounds and doesn’t believe a needle would work or that gurneys would hold him. He said a request for bypass surgery was denied.

He’s tried exercise, but the exercise bike at the Mansfield Correctional Institution reportedly broke under him.

Lakewood bar owner Mike Damiano believes the death penalty should be carried out.

"Hate to say it, but what kind of punishment did he put that woman through for $100,” said  Damiano. “I say, an eye for an eye."

Construction worker Marao Hannah agrees.

“Honestly, I don’t believe that just because he’s obese that that’s the United States’ fault,” said Hannah. “I believe he should pay for what he’s done.”

In 2008, double-killer Richard Cooey also said a viable vein could not be found for his execution. He was 5 feet, 7 inches tall and weighed 270 pounds. He was put to death with no complications.

Post's attorney, Rachel Troutman, released the following statement:

“If it kills him at all, it could take up to 16 hours. Ohio’s statute requires a quick and painless lethal injection, and the potential 200 plus needle sticks and up to 16 hours that Dr. Lubarsky predicted is not quick and painless. As Mr. Post’s counsel, we could not sit by and just wait for this attempted execution to play out this way, and we are obligated to alert DRC and the courts about this real and substantial risk. Especially after the two hours it took to find a vein in Christopher Newton, an obese inmate who was much smaller than Post.

Regardless, Post deserves to have his life spared, but not just to avoid his torture. Post’s attorneys advised him to plead no contest to aggravated murder, and he received nothing in exchange for his plea. There were two other individuals who were involved but never prosecuted, even though they told police the robbery plan was not Post’s, the idea to rob the Slumber Inn was not Post’s, the murder weapon was not Post’s, and it was not Post who had the murder weapon after the murder. The prosecution told the judges who sentenced Post that Post confessed to several witnesses his sole involvement and to being the actual killer, but there are actual transcripts of those conversations and witness interviews, and Post admits involvement but NOT to being the killer.”

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