It’s not over until the fat guy is strapped to the gurney. That was initially how it appeared to be playing out for an Ohio man found guilty of murder. But Reuters reports that Gov. John Kasich on Monday commuted the condemned man’s death sentence after his attorney appealed for mercy on the grounds that his client is obese.
Ronald Post, 53, who weighs more than 450 pounds, was scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on January 16 for the aggravated murder in 1983 of motel desk clerk Helen Vantz. A parole board panel recommended on Friday that his death sentence be commuted to life in prison.
Kasich said in a statement: “Regardless of the heinous nature of their crime, a criminal defendant is entitled to an effective defense, especially in a death penalty case. The Parole Board’s conclusion is that Ronald Post did not come close to receiving such a defense. After my own careful review, I agree.”
Kasich added that the decision “should not be viewed by anyone as diminishing this awful crime or the pain it has caused.”
Yet, the motivation for the stay of execution is not clearly explained by the news service. Was the man spared the death penalty because his original counsel was derelict? And, if so, how does his health — or more specifically speaking his obesity — weigh (no pun intended) on the decision to commute his sentence to life?
Finally, one has to wonder whether the court explained to Post that life in prison carries no promise of endless quantities of food. Given that reality, might Post have chosen death after all?
Howard Portnoy has written for HotAir, NewsBusters, Weasel Zippers, Conservative Firing Line, RedCounty, and New York’s Daily News. He has one published novel, Hot Rain, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), and has been a guest on Radio Vice Online with Jim Vicevich, The Alana Burke Show, Smart Life with Dr. Gina, and The George Espenlaub Show.
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