According to papers filed in federal court, Ronald Post, 53, is too obese to be executed by lethal injection and carrying out his death sentence would be tantamount to torture.
The papers filed late last week argue it will be too difficult to execute Post who weighs more than 480 pounds. The New York Daily News reports the filing argues in part,
"Indeed, given his unique physical and medical condition, there is a substantial risk that any attempt to execute him will result in severe physical and psychological pain to him, as well as an execution involving a tortuous and lingering death."
Helen Grace Vance worked as a clerk at the Slumber Inn Motel in Elyria, Ohio. On Dec. 15, 1983, Post walked in to rob the motel. Without saying a word he went up behind her and shot her twice in the back of the head. He managed to steal about $100 and a black and white television set. He was convicted and sentenced to death two years later.
Post is scheduled to die on Jan. 16 by a single dose of pentobarbital.
Yahoo News reports Post has tried to lose weight but has been unsuccessful. He tried to exercise despite knee and back problems but he broke the prison's exercise bike. He finds it difficult to walk because he falls down due to his excessive weight. And depression prevents him from curbing his eating. He had requested a gastric bypass but his request was refused.
The filing also claims that he has been given IVs in the past and medical personnel had difficulty finding a vein.
As CBS News reports, this is not the first time the issue of obesity has been raised in Ohio regarding an execution. In 2008, federal court rejected a request to prevent the execution of Richard Cooey who weighed 267 pounds. Cooey argued his weight would make it too difficult to find a vein. The double murderer was put to death on Oct. 14, 2008.
The year before, it took prison officials about two hours to find a vein in order to put Christopher Norton to death. He weighed about 265 pounds and his weight was given as the reason why the execution took so long.
In June 2011, Helen's son, William Vance, wrote a letter to the editor of the Morning Journal saying it is about time Post's sentence was carried out. He wrote in part,
"Some have said that since it's been so long just let him stay in prison for the remainder of his natural life. No! I am as committed to this as the day he took her life. I will never forgive or forget what he took from us. We all have recourse to the law and it's time he paid his debt to society. It's way overdue!"
There is no word on when the court's decision will be handed down.