COLUMBUS — An Ohio inmate whose 450-pound weight became an issue in his death penalty case has died seven months after being granted clemency, officials said today.
Ronald Post died Thursday morning at a prison hospital where he'd been treated on and off since 2011, a state prisons spokeswoman said. He was a week shy of his 54th birthday.
Post was sentenced to death for killing Elyria motel clerk Helen Vantz on Dec. 15, 1983. His attorneys sought mercy for Post ahead of his Jan. 16 execution date on the grounds that he was so obese that he could not be executed humanely.
Republican Gov. John Kasich granted Post clemency in December citing poor legal representation, not his weight.
Spokeswoman Ricky Seyfang said the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction classified the death as "expected." She said privacy laws prevented her from divulging whether Post's weight was a factor in his death.
Post had most recently been transferred to the Franklin Medical Center on Jan. 3, Seyfang said. "Long story short, we weren't surprised by his passing," she said.
Kasich said in granting clemency that all criminal defendants deserve adequate defenses.
"This decision should not be viewed by anyone as a diminishing of this awful crime or the pain it has caused," he added in a statement.
His decision mirrored the recommendation of mercy by the state parole board, which said it didn't doubt Post's guilt but said there were too many problems with how he was legally represented 30 years ago.
Kasich's move was unrelated to Post's better-known argument: that he was too fat to be executed humanely under Ohio's lethal injection procedures.
Post had argued in federal court that executing him would amount to cruel and unusual punishment. His lawyers said he would suffer "a torturous and lingering death" as executioners tried to find a vein or use a backup method where lethal drugs are injected directly into muscle.
Kasich commuted Post's sentence to life with no chance of parole.