Ronald Post, condemned obese Ohio killer, asks parole board for mercy

FILE - This undated file photo provided by the Ohio Dept. of Rehabilitation and Corrections shows death row inmate Ronald Post. Post, 53, is scheduled to be executed Jan. 16, 2013, for the 1983 shooting death of a hotel desk clerk. Post is trying to stave off execution, arguing that because of his obesity, an attempt to put him to death would amount to cruel and unusual punishment. (AP Photo/Ohio Dept. of Rehabilitation and Corrections, File)
Death row inmate Ronald Post
AP Photo/Ohio Dept. of Rehabilitation and Corrections, File

(CBS/AP) COLUMBUS, Ohio - Death row inmate Ronald Post was already fighting his January execution on the grounds that he's too fat to be humanely put to death.

On Thursday, he made a case for clemency based on the grounds that he's innocent of murder. 

Post's attorneys argued before the Ohio parole board that their client should be spared because of lingering doubts about his "legal and moral guilt" and the conduct of defense and prosecution lawyers at his trial. 

The panel considers requests for mercy before making a recommendation to Gov. John Kasich, who has the final say.

Post has previously argued in federal court that, at 450 pounds, he's too heavy to be humanely executed and will suffer cruel and unusual punishment as the state struggles to find his veins or give him enough drugs to put someone his size to death.

The 53--year-old Post, who is now 450 pounds, was sentenced to die for the 1983 shooting of Elyria motel clerk Helen Vantz during a robbery. Vantz' sons, William and Michael, both attended Thursday's parole board hearing.

Post admitted involvement in the crime as the get-away driver to a police informant but did not admit to the killing.

"Sure ain't no murderer," Post told the informant, according to Post's clemency filing.

Doubt about Post's guilt lingers because of the involvement of two other men in the shooting, Post's attorneys argue. Post pleaded no contest to the crime on the advice of his attorney in expectation he would receive a life sentence, the attorneys argue. Even after his plea, he told a psychologist "he was not a murderer."

Post's attorneys say prosecutors misrepresented to the judge that Post had confessed to sole involvement in Vantz's death.

"The death penalty should be reserved for cases where proof of guilt is reliable and the legal system produced a just result," Post's attorneys said. "Neither criteria is met in this case."

Lorain County prosecutor Dennis Will argues against Post's fight for clemency. Will writes, "Even though some of Post's personal admissions of criminal actions did not include an express and explicit personal admission that he was the shooter of Helen Vantz, all of Post's admissions amount to a confession by Post that he committed crimes at the Slumber Inn."

The parole board hearing could last two days.

A federal judge plans a hearing later this month on Post's obesity claims.

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Sept. 18, 2012 - Ronald Post, Ohio death row inmate, wants his execution delayed because he is too obese