LUCASVILLE - Condemned inmate Joseph Lewis Clark dined on surf and turf and talked with family by phone yesterday as the hour of his death approached.
Gov. Bob Taft has denied clemency and Clark had no court appeals pending last night that could stop his execution at 10 a.m. today for the murder of David A. Manning 22 years ago during a drug-driven, nine-day armed robbery spree.
Clark would be the 21st man and the first from Lucas County to be executed since Ohio resumed carrying out the death penalty in 1999.
The execution appeared to be moving forward despite the fact that a federal judge yesterday issued a stay in the scheduled June 15 execution of Jeffrey D. Hill, who was convicted of murdering his mother in Hamilton County.
Hill is a party to a lawsuit challenging the protocol used in the lethal injection process, which critics argue could be unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment.
The Ohio Supreme Court refused to stop Clark's execution while that suit is pending.
Andrea Dean, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, described Clark, 57, as "almost upbeat," talking to employees at the Southern Ohio Correctional Institution that he remembered from his days when death row was based there.
"He's at peace with this process and the fact that it is going to be carried out," she said.
"He does plan to address the Manning family as well as the [Donald B.] Harris family in his statement," she said.
Mr. Manning's widow, Mary Ellen (Manning) Gordon, said there's only one thing she wants to hear from Clark.
"I want him to tell the truth. He keeps saying David was attacking him, which is not true. I don't think he's remorseful. If he is, it's only because he's dying," she said.
The Harris family won't be in the room to hear Clark's last words. Mr. Harris, 21, was robbed and murdered the day before Mr. Manning was killed, but the jury in the Harris case returned a sentence of life in prison instead of death.
Donald's mother and sisters were outside the prison yesterday. They said they sometimes feel Donald has been treated as a second-class victim, going back two decades ago when they were living in California and were not informed of Clark's trial. They missed it.
"It's all centered around what he got the death penalty for, so it's understandable," said Donald's sister, Carrie. "But yet it's kind of nice if there's some recognition of what happened to Donald, not just as another [convenience store] clerk."
Clark, 57, was transported yesterday from the new death row at the Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown to the death house in Lucasville.
For his final requested "special meal," he dined on six shrimp, steak with A-1 sauce, fried chicken wings, french fries with ketchup, dinner rolls with butter, cherry pie, and Pepsi.
He will have the option of eating what the other inmates will have this morning before his execution by a trio of drugs that will sedate him, paralyze his lungs, and shut down his heart.
Mr. Manning's widow and two brothers, Michael and Stephan Manning, will witness the execution along with the media.
Clark asked that no members of his family witness his death.
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