By Andrew Welsh-Huggins
COLUMBUS, Ohio — A condemned killer fighting his execution because of his extreme weight does not have accessible veins in his arms or hands and could not receive a lethal injection in his legs because he is so obese, a doctor said in a court filing.
Death row inmate Ronald Post wants a federal judge to stop his January execution on the grounds his weight could cause him to suffer severe pain during the procedure. The state opposes the request.
Ohio attorneys had criticized an earlier filing by Post based on an analysis by a doctor who didn't examine him.
Thursday's filing sought to counter that opposition by presenting the affidavit of a doctor who extensively examined Post and interviewed him about his medical history.
It is "highly unlikely" that an IV could be placed in Post's legs and "extremely unlikely" that veins could be found in his hands, Ohio State medical center anesthesiologist Sergio Bergese said in affidavit dated Oct. 31 and filed Thursday.
Post also has scars on his left and right forearms from a suicide attempt that make his veins inaccessible for an IV, Bergese said. Post weighs more than 400 pounds, the doctor said.
He said Post reported he has provided some blood samples in the past only after great difficulty. Bergese said providing blood samples is no guarantee that an IV could be inserted.
Post, 53, is scheduled to die Jan. 16 for the 1983 shooting death of Helen Vantz in Elyria.
Vantz's son, Bill Vantz, has called Post's arguments "laughable."
Post argues his weight, vein access, scar tissue, depression and other medical problems raise the likelihood his executioners would encounter severe problems.
Post's attorneys also want more time to pursue arguments that claims of a full confession by the inmate to several people have been falsely exaggerated.
Post has tried losing weight, but knee and back problems have made it difficult to exercise, according to his court filing.
Post's request for gastric bypass surgery has been denied, he has been encouraged not to walk because he's at risk for falling, and severe depression has contributed to his inability to limit how much he eats, his filing said.
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