LUCASVILLE, Ohio A man who shot to death his wife because she wanted to leave him was executed today, in what prison officials say was a successful first test of lethal injection guidelines adopted after the last execution was plagued with problems.
Two injection sites were established on Rocky Barton one as a backup in case something went wrong with a vein and the whole process went smoothly, prisons Director Terry Collins said.
Barton, 49, said he deserved execution and gave up his appeals that could have delayed his sentence for years. He died at 10:27 a.m. at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility.
The state s lethal injection protocol was changed after Joseph Clark s execution in May, which was held up 90 minutes when prison staff struggled to find a useable vein and one they used collapsed.
The state now requires staff to make every effort to find two injection sites and use a low-pressure saline drip to make sure the veins stay open once entryways are inserted.
The execution team appeared more relaxed and less hurried after the new guidelines advised staff against feeling pressured to follow what had become an artificial self-imposed timeframe to complete an execution quickly, Collins said.
I think that was the biggest thing, Collins said. I noticed a different relaxation.
Barton also was examined closely for any medical problems a day before his execution and again this morning.
Previously, examinations of inmates before an execution consisted of a visual check of the inmate and a review of his medical file, according to a June report by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.
The May execution, when Clark asked prison staff to find another way to kill him, drew criticism from death penalty opponents who said the problems illustrated why the method of capital punishment is cruel and unconstitutional. It came amid a growing national debate about lethal injection.
Barton was convicted of aggravated murder for shooting Kimbirli Jo Barton, 44, up close with a shotgun in 2003 outside their farmhouse while his 17-year-old stepdaughter watched. She had returned to get some belongings from the home in Waynesville, about 35 miles northeast of Cincinnati.
In his final statement, Barton turned to Kimbirli Jo s son and two daughters and said: I m sorry for what I done, sorry for killing your momma and for what I done to you.
Kimbirli Jo Barton died in the arms of her daughter, Jamie Reising, who was allowed to leave a jail in Lebanon across the state to watch the execution. Reising is being held on a drug trafficking charge.
Barton told Kimbirli Jo s son, Joseph Reynolds, not to let anger and hate toward him destroy his life, and he told his own mother, father and uncle he was sorry for bringing shame to the family.
Just before the lethal drugs were administered, Barton said, As Gary Gilmore said, Let s do it.
Gilmore, who was convicted in Utah of shooting two people, said the same thing before he became the first person put to death after a 1976 Supreme Court ruling that the death penalty was legal. He was executed Jan. 17, 1977 by firing squad.
Following Barton s execution, Reising said she s reaching the point where she can forgive Barton, but not yet. She said she doesn t want to carry hate in her heart for the rest of her life.
Barton, who did not seek clemency from Gov. Bob Taft, had asked the trial court to sentence him to death. A judge ruled last week that he was competent to give up his appeals.
After shooting his wife, he fired the shotgun under his chin, causing extensive wounds to his face.
His father, Donald Barton, said in a statement today that he is grieving and expressed resentment that Warren County prosecutors were cruel, callous, cavalier and boastful in seeking the death penalty.
Prosecutors portrayed Barton as a possessive and controlling husband.
He served eight years in Kentucky on an attempted murder charge for beating his second wife with a shotgun, stabbing her three times and cutting her throat. He was paroled but was returned to prison for another year after his third wife while trying to divorce him accused him of domestic violence and threatening her life.
He and Kimbirli Jo Barton attended high school together and married while he was in prison. Within months of his release, Barton was arrested in 2002, accused of threatening his new wife and pushing her around, but she refused to file charges.
Four months later, she said she was leaving and Barton went into a rage.
Barton was the third inmate executed this year and the 22nd since Ohio resumed executions in 1999.
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