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Ohio inmate loses bid to stay his execution because of weight

By Kim Palmer

CLEVELAND (Reuters) - A federal judge said on Monday that an Ohio death row inmate weighing more than 450 pounds cannot be given a stay of execution because of his obesity.

Ronald Post, 53, is scheduled to be executed January 16 for the 1983 aggravated murder of hotel clerk Helen Vantz in Elyria, Ohio.

Since his first appeal in 1997, Post's attorneys have argued that his weight, of more than 450 pounds, in combination with the state's death penalty drug protocols creates a certainty of, "substantial risk for serious and psychological pain" and a "torturous and lingering death."

Attorneys for Post argued that his obesity would make it difficult to find a vein for a lethal injection and that the alternative of an intramuscular injection might not kill him because of his weight.

Judge Lesley Wells ruled in federal court in Columbus, Ohio on Monday that Post's latest court filing did not present any new arguments that warranted a stay of execution.

Post was sentenced to death by a three-judge panel in 1985. The prosecution contended that Post confessed to the murder to multiple people and once arrested tried to pay others to kill witnesses.

The motion for a stay of execution will now be sent to the Sixth District Court of Appeals for review.

(Editing by Greg McCune and M.D. Golan)