LUCASVILLE, Ohio - A 5-foot-7, 267-pound double murderer who says he's too fat to be executed humanely passed a pre-execution exam Tuesday and was cleared to receive a lethal injection as the U.S. Supreme Court denied his latest appeal.
Richard Cooey, 41, was given a detailed examination, and prison staff found a viable vein in both arms to deliver the deadly chemicals, Department of Corrections spokeswoman Andrea Carson said.
Cooey had tried to avoid execution by arguing that his obesity would prevent humane lethal injection because viable veins in his arms are hard to find.
Cooey is scheduled to die for killing two college students in 1986. He spent most of the night sitting on his bed and pacing quietly in his cell, Carson said. He fell asleep at 4:06 a.m., woke at 5:20 a.m. and did not ask for breakfast.
He later met with an attorney and a spiritual adviser.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday denied Cooey's second appeal to stop the execution. It turned down without comment his complaint that the state's protocol for lethal injection could cause an agonizing and painful death. He wanted the state to use a single drug rather than a three-drug combination, and asked for a stay of execution pending a hearing on that motion.
The court on Monday denied a separate appeal based on Cooey's claim that his obesity was a bar to humane lethal injection. The argument also had been rejected by a federal appeals court in Cincinnati and the Ohio Supreme Court, with both courts ruling that he missed a deadline for filing appeals.
Cooey is 75 pounds heavier than when he went to death row — the result of prison food and 23-hour-a-day confinement, his lawyers said.
They also argued that a migraine medicine prescribed by a prison physician could reduce the effect of the anesthetic used as part of the three-drug lethal injection.
They claimed that Ohio has a history of botched executions.
The last Ohio inmate to be executed was Christopher Newton — who was similar in size to Cooey — in May 2007. The execution team had trouble putting IVs in his arm, delaying his execution nearly two hours. There were similar problems in the execution of another inmate in 2006.
Cooey made an earlier trip to the death house. But a U.S. District Court judge intervened hours before his scheduled execution in July 2003 when the Ohio Public Defender's office said it needed more time to assess the case after an appeals court dismissed his previous attorneys for inadequate representation.
Cooey and a co-defendant were convicted in the sexual assaults and slayings of University of Akron students Dawn McCreery, 20, and Wendy Offredo, 21, in September 1986. His co-defendant was 17 and was sentenced to life in prison because of his age.
The Ohio Board of Parole and Gov. Ted Strickland have refused Cooey's plea for clemency.
Cooey dined Monday evening on the special meal he ordered, including T-bone steak with A-1 sauce, onion rings, french fries, four eggs over easy, toast with butter, hash browns, a pint of rocky road ice cream, a Mountain Dew soft drink and bear claw pastries.
He was set to go to his death without any family members present. Relatives visited Cooey last month at the Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown but chose not to make the trip to the death house at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Carson said.