I’ve been a little out of sorts the past few days, due to the recent passing of my father’s girlfriend, who spent 3 wonderful years with my dad, and enhanced his life just by being in it. She will be missed by all of us, and her untimely passing has us still in shock. The loss of a life so full is a true loss.
My blog today will be about someone whose life is worth nothing. Let me introduce to you Ronald Post, who shot and killed a hotel clerk in northern Ohio almost 30 years ago.
Post, 53, is scheduled to die Jan. 16 for the 1983 shooting death of Helen Vantz in Elyria, Ohio. Mr. Post, who weighs 480 pounds, wants his upcoming execution delayed, saying his weight could lead to a “torturous and lingering death.”
According to motions filed in Ohio’s court system, Mr. Post claims his weight, vein access, scar tissue and other medical problems raise the likelihood his executioners would encounter severe problems. He’s also so big that the execution gurney might not hold him, lawyers for Post said in federal court papers filed last Friday (9/14/12). Post’s request for gastric bypass surgery has been denied, he’s been encouraged not to walk because he’s at risk for falling, and severe depression has contributed to his inability to limit how much he eats, his filing said.
This is not the first time that the weight of a criminal/inmate has been made a legal issue.
In 2008, federal courts rejected arguments by condemned double-killer Richard Cooey that he was too obese to die by injection. Cooey’s attorneys had argued that prison food and limited opportunities to exercise contributed to a weight problem that would make it difficult for the execution team to find a viable vein for lethal injection.
Cooey was 5-foot-7 and weighed 267 pounds, and was finally executed Oct. 14, 2008.
In 2007, it took Ohio executioners about two hours to insert IVs into the veins of condemned inmate Christopher Newton, who weighed about 265 pounds. A prison spokeswoman at the time said his size was an issue.
In 1994 in Washington state, a federal judge upheld the conviction of Mitchell Rupe, but agreed with Rupe’s contention that at more than 400 pounds, he was too heavy to hang because of the risk of decapitation. Rupe argued that hanging would constitute cruel and unusual punishment. After numerous court rulings and a third trial, Rupe was eventually sentenced to life in prison, where he died in 2006.
Which brings us back to Mr. Post and the filings to avoid the death penalty by his lawyers who claim the following:
“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,”
I believe in the American system of justice. With that said, I don’t believe in how it’s been used to benefit those who commit crimes. Along comes Ronald Post and the others mentioned above, who USE obesity, and USE the American justice system for their personal benefit. In reading the article about Mr. Post, the comments sections was particularly filled with people who needed to get fat hate out there, as if every obese person was a murderer. The generalizations and assumptions made, while obviously coming from those who seem ignorant of obesity and how and why it exists, have Mr. Ronald Post to thank for motivating them to comment. Thank you SO much for that, Mr. Post.
In Ohio, he has been sentenced to death for killing another person. That is a legal prescription for justice in that state, and I support it. I don’t care what Mr. Post weighs, and I don’t care what Mr. Post’s attorneys are trying to do. Sometimes death is a cruel and unusual punishment, regardless of how it comes. It’s not the state’s responsibility to worry about Mr. Post’s potential torturing and lingering death. Perhaps a different form of execution should be considered, but the wheels of justice in Ohio must continue to turn.
Some people would die to be thin (thanks to fat shaming). In Mr. Post’s case, perhaps the reverse can be true.
I’m sure there’s a compassionate doctor who would be happy to perform a procedure that would allow Mr. Post to lose enough weight to have the IV full of pentobarbital injected into his veins.
If not, just buy a larger needle.