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Death row inmate says he’s too overweight to be executed

Eric Pfeiffer
The Sideshow

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Attorneys for Ronald Post say he is too overweight to be executed (Ohio Dept. of Rehabilitation and Correction …

Lawyers for a 480-pound death row inmate in Ohio say their client is too overweight to be put to death.

"Indeed, 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," reads the filing made on behalf of Ronald Post, 53, who was convicted of shooting to death hotel clerk Helen Vantz 29 years ago.

Post, who is set to be executed by lethal injection on January 16, 2013, says that his executioners would encounter several problems, including difficulty finding a viable vein for injection and the likelihood that with his unusual weight he would break any gurney used in the process.

The Ohio prison system relies on lethal injection in cases resulting in execution.

Ohio is tied nationally with Kansas for the 13th highest obesity rate in the country, with 29.6 percent of its residents listed as overweight.

However, in a statement, Post's federal public defender, Joseph Wilhelm, said the confession used to convict his client was also exaggerated.

"Post's case is about more than his weight, and his life should be spared for reasons wholly unrelated to his obesity," the statement reads.

The Associated Press reports that this is not the first case in which a death row inmate has attempted to use his weight to escape execution.

In 1994, a federal judge in Washington State ruled that 400-pound Mitchell Rupe was too heavy to be hanged and instead was eventually sentenced to life in prison. Rupe died in confinement in 2006.

However, other heavyset inmates have not fared so well in their pleas, such as in the cases of Richard Cooey in 2008 and Christopher Newton in 2007. Still, both of those men each weighed 200 pounds less than Post.

Newton, who was also from Ohio, had his execution delayed for two hours while prison staff struggled to find a vein to administer his lethal injection.

The U.S. and 20 of the world's 198 countries officially sanction the death penalty, according to Amnesty International. The group reports that the U.S. executed 43 individuals in 2011. Of those, five executions were carried out in Ohio.

China is believed to have executed the largest number of individuals, though exact figures are not known. Amongst nations that have reported their number of executions, Iran leads the list, with at least 360 individuals executed in 2011.

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