LUCASVILLE, Ohio – A grossly overweight inmate was executed by injection Thursday morning after a delay of more than an hour while prison medical staff struggled to find suitable veins in his arms.
The execution for Christopher Newton, who had killed a cellmate in 2001 and insisted on the death sentence, had been set to begin at 10 a.m.
But members of the medical staff at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility struggled to find veins in each arm, said Leo Jennings, a spokesman for the attorney general's office.
"They can't find the vein, they can't find an insertion point," Jennings said at one point.
Newton was finally pronounced dead shortly before noon.
A year ago, the execution of another Ohio inmate, Joseph Lewis Clark, also was delayed more than an hour because the team could not find a suitable vein. The case was cited by death penalty opponents as an example of the problems with lethal injection.
Joe Wilhelm, the head of the Public Defender's death penalty division, said prison officials had had difficulty in the past drawing blood because Newton weighs close to 300 pounds.
Court documents say Newton, who spent much of his adult life in prison, knew killing cellmate Jason Brewer, 27, was a capital crime, and refused to cooperate with investigators unless they sought the death penalty.
Gov. Ted Strickland said Monday he agreed with the Ohio Parole Board's recommendation against sparing him. The governor had delayed Newton's execution when he first took office in January to research the case.