COLUMBUS, Ohio - The governor on Monday sidestepped a decision about whether a condemned inmate was too fat to be humanely executed by sparing the prisoner on the grounds that he had poor legal representation.
Gov. John Kasich's decision to grant clemency to Ronald Post mirrored the recommendation of mercy by the state parole board, which said it didn't doubt Post's guilt but said there were too many problems with how he was represented 30 years ago.
Post, who weighs 450 pounds, never raised the issue of his size with the board. And Kasich, who commuted Post's sentence to life with no chance of parole, didn't mention Post's obesity claim in his statement. Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said the governor didn't consider Post's obesity claim.
"This decision should not be viewed by anyone as diminishing this awful crime or the pain it has caused," Kasich said.
Post's attorneys applauded the decision.
The parole board and Kasich "rightly recognized that, in cases in which the state seeks to execute one of its citizens, our justice system simply must work better than it did in Mr. Post's case," said public defenders Joe Wilhelm and Rachel Troutman.
In its Friday decision, the parole 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.
Separately, Post had argued in federal court that executing him would amount to cruel and unusual punishment. His attorneys said 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.
Post was scheduled to die Jan. 16 for killing Elyria motel clerk Helen Vantz in a 1983 robbery.