The prisoner who claimed that he was too fat to be humanely executed by lethal injection was nonetheless put to death by this method in Ohio yesterday. Richard Cooey, aged 41, killed two students from an Ohio university twenty-two years ago. His final appeal was rejected by the US Supreme Court on Tuesday. Cooey and Clinton Dickens, his 17-year-old accomplice, were found guilty of the murders of Wendy Offredo and Dawn McCreery. The two men had been throwing concrete slabs from a bridge onto a main road. One of them struck Ms Offredo's car.
Worse, they pretended to "rescue" the women and took the victims to a remote field where they subjected them to three-and-a-half-hours of rape, torture, stabbing, and fatal bludgeoning. Cooey carved an "X" into the stomachs of both women.
Each man blamed the other for delivering the fatal blows, but both were convicted of murder. Dickens received a life sentence because of his age.
Six of Dawn McCreery's family members watched quietly as the execution took place. Mary Ann Hackenberg, mother of the 20-year old student, looked to the ceiling and let out a sigh when Cooey's death was announced at 10:28am local time.
Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh said the family was disappointed that Cooey was vulgar and hateful to the end. "He still would not apologize and still would not accept responsibility for what he did," she said.
It is a terrible thing to take the life of another human being. For the state to do it in the name of its citizens is an awesome thing. The frightening possiblity that an innocent man might be executed would hold us back from rushing precipitously to the death penalty.
But then again, there are some crimes so horrible and some criminals so unrepentent
that they deserve death. The victim's blood cries out to us from the ground.
The American system of state executions, where numerous rounds of appeals and stays of execution at least give the murderer time to regret and repent, certainly has its critics. It is said that in the UK you get a life sentence for murder; in China you get the death penalty, but in the USA, first you get a life sentence and then you get the death penalty.
I find it strange that people who encourage the putting to death of babies in the womb lest they become an encumbrance to their irresponsible mothers, and who wish to put away old people who have outlived their 'usefulness', should wish to preserve the lives of monsters like Cooey.
I know hard cases make bad law and that there may well be grey areas concerning abortion, euthanasia and capital punishment that could be argued about, but would anybody like to stand up and say to Mrs Hackenberg that her daughter's killer should not have been executed?