Too fat for execution?

Lethal Injection From USA Today 05/08/08:

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An inmate scheduled for execution in October says he's so fat that Ohio executioners would have trouble finding his veins and he might not be properly anesthetized.

Lawyers for Richard Cooey argue in a federal lawsuit that Cooey had poor veins when he faced execution five years ago and that the problem has been worsened by weight gain.

They cite a document filed by a prison nurse in 2003 that said Cooey had sparse veins and that executioners would need extra time.

"When you start the IV's come 15 minutes early," wrote the nurse who examined Cooey. "I don't have any veins."

The lawsuit, filed Friday in federal court in Columbus, also says prison officials have had difficulty drawing blood from Cooey for medical procedures. Cooey is 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighs 267 pounds, according to the lawsuit.

Cooey, 41, was sentenced to die for raping and murdering two University of Akron students in 1986. A federal judge granted him a last-minute reprieve in 2003. In April, he lost a challenge to Ohio's lethal injection process when the U.S. Supreme Court said he had missed a deadline to file a lawsuit.

Cooey's execution is scheduled for Oct. 14.

I think it's safe to assume that few members of the public are going to have much sympathy with Cooey.  For what it's worth, I'm not a pro capital punishment kind of guy, although I have to admit I don't completely disagree with it in all circumstances either.   There might be an element of validity in Cooey's argument or it might just be an increasingly used and perhaps topically appropriate attempt to wriggle out of the death penalty.  Cooey's argument, of course, centres around the fact that should the first stage of the injection process fail, that is, the anaesthetic,  his death will be excruciatingly painful and contrary to basic human rights.  Personally, I think a painful death is far less agonising than waiting on death row for however long, just waiting to die. 


  1. A painful death is a bad death, which ever way you look at it. Some might say that the heinous crimes committed by this man means that he deserves such pain and agony, but the state should be bigger than this; if it must indulge itself in such eye for an eye behaviour ( which to my mind it shouldnt, regardless of circumstance) at least let the method used be swift, and death by lethal injection is far from that........

  2. Also, if they're going to give someone a painful death for their crimes, they need to be doing that to everyone. If they can't perform executions uniformly, then those executions shouldn't do ahead.

    I imagine that would go against the 'unusual punishment' proviso of the constitution. Death sentences aren't really meant to punish anyway; the prison sentence is enough to do that. The idea is that the person is so dangerous or so bad and irredeemable that they cannot be allowed to continue to live.

    I think death penalty is really 2 questions : Is it right for the state to kill someone for breach of it's laws, and if so is the system is place sufficient to provide enough guards and controls in place to make sure it is done fairly, properly, and without risk of mistake.

    I think whatever position you hold on the bare right or wrong of the death penalty in principle, it has been shown that death penalty systems do not work, through prejudice, lack of funding, conviction of the innocent etc.

    It's also bloody expensive, much more than life imprisonment.


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