Ohio: Obese death row inmate claiming innocence
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A condemned killer trying to delay his execution because he is obese is now raising an innocence claim, a prosecutor said in a filing with the Ohio Parole Board.
Death row inmate Ronald Post, who weighs more than 400 pounds, is asking the courts to stop his January execution on the grounds his weight could cause him to suffer severe pain during the procedure.
Post has also attempted to delay his execution to try to prove that claims he made a full confession to several people have been falsely exaggerated.
Post told the parole board on Nov. 20 that another man shot hotel desk clerk Helen Vantz in Elyria in 1983, Lorain County Prosecutor Dennis Will said in a board filing Wednesday obtained by The Associated Press through a records request.
Post said he was "complicit in the robbery" but didn't enter the hotel personally, Will said in the filing.
Will called the allegation a "brand new claim" that isn't backed up by the facts. He said Post took responsibility when he pleaded no contest in 1984.
The board "should consider Post's written admission, made in open court almost thirty years ago, that he, and he alone, was responsible for the crimes against Helen Vantz," Will wrote.
Post's lawyer denied there was anything new about his client's comments to the board. Post, without explaining his role in the crime, apologized for his involvement in Vantz' death during a sentencing hearing, defense attorney Rachel Troutman said Thursday.
Post entered a no contest plea and was not tried.
A December 1984 report filed ahead of Post's sentencing quoted him as saying he was with two men he knew when they talked about robbing the motel but he didn't take them seriously.
Post "stated that it wasn't until the next day when he read in the papers about the murder, did he realize that they had been serious," the report said.
In the parole board interview, Post identified one of those men, Ralph Hall, as the shooter.
Will, the prosecutor, said Post told seven people after the shooting that he was responsible, including Hall. He also said two independent witnesses at the hotel saw a man fitting Post's description in the lobby around the time of the shooting.
Their testimony "provides a compelling showing that Post was alone with Helen Vantz shortly before the crime," Will said in his parole board filing.
Messages could not be left at an Elyria phone listing for Hall.
Post's parole hearing is Dec. 6. A federal judge in Cleveland has rejected his obesity claim, while a federal judge in Columbus plans a hearing next month on the claim as part of an unrelated lawsuit challenging Ohio's lethal injection procedures.
Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached at http://twitter.com/awhcolumbus.