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. He was one of two people executed nationwide Tuesday.
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.
“He still would not apologize and still would not accept responsibility for what he did,” she said.
Three of Cooey’s lawyers served as his witnesses.
“The government has no conscience, only policy. Today, the policy was state-sanctioned murder of Richard Cooey,” said one of the lawyers, Eric Allen.
Cooey was the first inmate executed in Ohio since the end of an unofficial moratorium on executions that began last year while the U.S. Supreme Court reviewed Kentucky’s lethal injection procedure.
In east Texas, a former truck repair shop owner convicted of fatally shooting a 22-month-old boy in a spree that also killed the child’s parents was executed Tuesday evening.
Alvin Kelly, 57, denied any involvement in the 1984 slayings in Gregg County, although he had confessed to a previous killing and was in prison for that conviction when he was charged in the triple murder.
Kelly was the 10th Texas prisoner executed this year in the nation’s busiest capital punishment state.
He said with his previous murder conviction, plus convictions for burglary, weapons possession, controlled substance delivery and possession and aggravated sexual assault, “I didn’t stand a chance.”
“I still love Texas,” he said. “I love bluebonnets. Texas didn’t put me here. I put me here, by my lifestyle. I’m not pious. I’m not holy. I’m an old sinner.”
Also Tuesday, the Supreme Court cleared the way for a Georgia man to be put to death for killing a police officer, despite calls from his supporters to reconsider the case because seven of nine key witnesses against him have recanted their testimony.
The high court granted Troy Davis a reprieve Sept. 23, less than two hours before his scheduled execution. But the justices declined Tuesday to give his appeal a full-blown hearing, clearing the last hurdle toward his death by lethal injection.
It was not immediately clear when his execution will take place.
Davis, 39, was sentenced to death for the 1989 murder of a 27-year-old Savannah police officer. But doubts about his guilt and a high-profile publicity campaign have won him the support of prominent advocates including former President Jimmy Carter and South Africa Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Witnesses identified Davis as the shooter. At his 1991 trial, prosecutors said he wore a “smirk on his face” as he fired the gun.