October 15, 2008 in Nation/World

Ohio inmate executed despite obesity argument

By MATT REED Associated Press

LUCASVILLE, Ohio – The first inmate to die by lethal injection in Ohio in more than a year argued to the end that his obesity would make it difficult for prison staff to find suitable veins in his arms to deliver the deadly chemicals.

During preparations for his execution Tuesday, Richard Cooey shouted for one of his attorneys as prison staff tried to insert a shunt in his left arm.

“He was worried that we were on the brink of another botched execution,” said Greg Meyers, an attorney with the Ohio public defender’s office.

There were no difficulties, said Larry Greene, a spokesman for the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility, where Cooey was executed for killing two University of Akron students in 1986.

Cooey, who stood 5 foot 7 and weighed 267 pounds, said in numerous legal filings that his obesity made death by lethal injection inhumane. Problems finding veins on other inmates had delayed previous executions in Ohio.

Cooey, who earlier in the day lost a final appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court, had little to say when offered the chance to make a final statement.

“For what? You (expletive) haven’t paid any attention to anything I’ve said in the last 22 1/2 years, why would anyone pay any attention to anything I’ve had to say now?” Cooey said, looking at the ceiling.

Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh said the family of Mary Ann Hackenberg, who was 20 when she was killed, was disappointed that Cooey was vulgar and hateful to the end.

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