Obese Death Row Inmate: Ohio Parole Board Recommends Clemency For 450-lb Ronald Post

By IScienceTimes Staff on December 14, 2012 6:36 PM EST

Ronald Post
The 450-lb Post was seeking Clemency based on his size. A parole board recommended he get it because of incompetent lawyers instead. (Photo: Ohio State Dept. of Rehabilita)

Ronald Post is a 450-lb inmate on Ohio's death row with a January execution scheduled for the 1983 murder of a motel clerk. The obese death row inmate has been seeking clemency because he claims he is too fat to be executed by lethal injection. His lawyers argue that physicians won't be able to locate the veins in his arms or legs, and that his weight won't be supported by a hospital gurney.

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"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 a torturous and lingering death," Post's attorneys argued in court papers.

The obese death row inmate may get his clemency after all, but not because of his size.

The Ohio Parole Board is recommending mercy because he may have had incompetent lawyers during his trial, according to the Associated Press.  The board voted 5-3 on Friday to grant the obese death row inmate clemency. The final decision rests with Governor John Kasich, however. A spokesman for his office told Reuters that he has not reached a decision yet.

The Parole Board said that the obese death row inmate had committed a horrible crime, but that omissions and questionable decisions by his defense lawyers, including recommending he plea 'no contest' to charges while the death penalty was still a sentencing option, warranted a life sentence instead.

The obese death row inmate may have been making his 'too fat to execute' argument based on the Washington state case of Mitchell Rupe, a 400-lb man who's execution by hanging was delayed because it could have decapitated him. After a series of court rulings and a third trial Rupe was re-sentenced to life in prison and passed away in 2006.

Ronald Post weighed just 260 lbs. when he was sentenced to death row in 1985. His lawyers argue that the obese death row inmate has had large fluctuations in weight since coming to death row, including once losing 150 pounds through diet and exercise. However, his lawyers say that knee and back injuries have made it too difficult for the obese death row inmate to exercise, and that since his request for gastric bypass surgery

was denied he has been told to avoid walking because a fall could cause serious injury.

Ohio state prison officials have not said how exactly Post got so fat while behind bars, saying that the obese death row inmate was served the same reasonable portions given to all prisoners. No seconds are allowed and Ohio prisons offer healthy options such as low-fat milk and mixed vegetables.

Should his clemency be denied, there is a possibility the obese death row inmate will undergo a "cut-down" execution in which doctors cut into his arms and legs to locate the necessary veins. However, the procedure has never been performed in Ohio and it is unclear if it could go through without court approval.

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