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Published: Friday, 4/26/2002

Monitors to capture Coleman's last breath

BY JAMES DREW
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU CHIEF

LUCASVILLE, Ohio - Convicted serial killer Alton Coleman does not want Raymond Temple and his two sisters, Kimberly and Angela, to watch him die this morning.

But they will be there.

Nearly 18 years ago, they were in their house on Auburn Avenue in Toledo when Coleman murdered and sexually assaulted their mother, Virginia, and 9-year-old sister, Rachelle.

At 10 a.m. today, barring a last-minute delay, the Temples and 12 other victim relatives and friends will sit in a room inside J-Block, a building behind the Death House at the state prison near here.

They will watch Coleman's life slip away within seven to eight minutes from a lethal dose of three drugs.

A camera roughly the size of a fist will be set up in the Execution Chamber at eye-level of the witnesses watching in person. The images will be relayed to two monitors in J-Block. A recording won't be made, said Andrea Dean, a spokesman for the state prison system.

The state is executing Coleman, 46, for the July 13, 1984, murder of Marlene Walters, 44, of the Cincinnati suburb of Norwood. Coleman and his companion, Debra Brown, also severely beat Mrs. Walters' husband, Harry.

Mr. Walter and two sons-in-law will watch Coleman's death from the Execution Chamber.

But because Coleman and Brown went on a 53-day crime spree in the summer of 1984 - starting with the abduction and murder of 9-year-old Vernita Wheat of Kenosha, Wis., and ending with the murder of retired Indianapolis businessman Eugene Scott - the state has set up a closed-circuit television system so more people can witness the execution. Coleman and Brown were linked to eight slayings and Coleman also received the death penalty in Indiana and Illinois.

At Coleman's request, his court-appointed attorneys last week sued the state, citing state law that says three persons chosen by the immediate family of the victim can witness an execution. They asked a court to block the use of closed-circuit television.

A state appeals court yesterday upheld the decision by a Franklin County judge to reject Coleman's request, saying there was no evidence his constitutional rights would be harmed. The Ohio Supreme Court then unanimously denied a motion to review the matter.

“Alton Coleman may have killed for sport, but it's important for him to understand he has interfered in these people's lives for the last time,” said Jeff Clark, chief of the corrections litigation section of the state Attorney General's office.

A three-judge panel of the federal appeals court based in Cincinnati also rejected Coleman's claim that his attorney several years ago failed to file an appeal alleging that Hamilton County Prosecutor Arthur Ney excluded blacks from the jury in Coleman's 1985 trial for the bludgeoning death of Mrs. Walters.

Coleman's attorneys appealed that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, which rejected a request to review it.

“There is nothing in the way to stop the execution from taking place,” said Joe Case, a spokesman for state Attorney General Betty Montgomery.

Coleman was transported yesterday in a prison van from death row at the state prison in Mansfield to the maximum-security Lucasville prison, where he arrived shortly after 10 a.m. yesterday.

At about 4 p.m., from his cell in the Death House, Coleman began to eat the “final dinner” he had requested: filet mignon with sauteed mushrooms cooked well-done, sweet potato pie with whipped cream, butter pecan ice cream, biscuits with brown gravy, french fries, broccoli with cheese, cherry cola, green lettuce salad with French dressing, collard greens, onion rings, fried chicken breast, and corn bread.

“He has access to that meal all night,” said Andrea Dean, a state prison system spokeswoman.

He also obtained some greeting cards and planned to watch religious videos from T.D. Jakes Ministries of West Virginia.

Coleman met with his attorneys and two “spiritual advisers,” Larry Warner of Columbus and Bobby Garland of Waukegan, Ill.

Coleman also was to meet with his brother, Donnie Bates, and two sisters, Jean and Terri, of Waukegan, Ill., Ms. Dean said.

Coleman told prison officials he did not know if he would make a final statement this morning, but he might make a written one, Ms. Dean said.

He has not requested to talk to Brown, who is serving a life term at the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville. She faces the death penalty in Indiana for the slaying of 7-year-old Tamika Turks, of Gary, Ind. Brown's death sentence in Ohio was commuted in 1991 by Gov. Richard Celeste.

As of yesterday evening, Coleman had not requested any sedatives, state officials said.

“He does not appear to be nervous. He does not appear to be apprehensive about the things awaiting ahead for him,” Ms. Dean said.



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