T-bone steak with A-1 sauce, onion rings, hash browns, French fries, buttered toast, four eggs over easy, a pint of rocky road ice cream, bear claw pastries, and Mountain Dew are on the menu for Monday, October 13, 2008.
This was a feast for Richard Wade Cooey II, age 41, dining alone. It was his final day on Earth. Cooey was scheduled to be executed by lethal injection at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville at 10 a.m. on Tuesday.
Nevertheless, based on his most recent appeal, it appeared that Cooey did not require anything special in order to enjoy his food. The standard prison fare he consumed for over two decades on de*ath row was delicious. During his time in prison, he gained 70 pounds.
In his appeal, he argued that two aspects of prison life — overeating and lack of exercise — rendered him too overweight for execution by lethal injection. Through the extra layers of flesh on his 5′ 7″, 267-pound frame, it would be nearly impossible to locate a vein.
Cooey described the punishment as cruel and unusual and demanded a stay of execution.
Cooey committed the crimes that landed him on de*ath row on Labour Day, 1986, when he was much thinner. Dawn McCreery, 20, and Wendy Offredo, 21, were raped, mur*dered, and dismembered by Cooey, a U.S. Army private on leave at the time, and Clinton Dickens, 17. Cooey and Dickens raped, mur*dered, and dismembered Dawn McCreery, 20, and Wendy Offredo, 21.
The women, who worked as waitresses, were travelling to a concert in Offredo’s Pontiac Fiero at approximately 11 p.m. on August 31. As they drove beneath a flyover, a 35-pound chunk of concrete shattered the windscreen on the driver’s side.
Offredo stopped on the shoulder of the road. Three young men approached them and offered to drive them to a pay phone.
Offredo dialled 911 and contacted her mother, Geri Muck. The girl was uncertain of exactly where they had parked the car, so she called one of the men with directions. Muck asked if he could care for her daughter until she arrived.
When Offredo’s mother arrived, the vehicle was empty.
A day later, hikers discovered the two women’s bodies. They were violated, beaten, stabbed, and strangled with shoelaces. Someone carved an X into their stomach.
A man’s tip that Cooey attempted to sell him women’s jewellery led police to the suspect’s residence. They discovered a jacket containing the victim’s necklaces, rings, and watches. The police detained him.
Three more arrests then occurred. Dickens was indicted for mu*rder, kidnapping, rape, and theft. Kenneth Horonetz, age 18, and Terry Grant, age 19, have been charged with obstruction of justice for assisting in the destruction of evidence and concealing information.
Horonetz claimed he was with Cooey and Dickens when they threw the cement block at the car, but he left after realising they intended to harm the women. He pleaded guilty, received a sentence ranging from 3 to 15 years, and was released on parole within a year.
Grant was not present at the crime scene, but Cooey told him about it. He was placed on probation after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice for failing to immediately report to police.
Cooey pled not guilty by reason of insanity and waived his right to a jury trial. When he appeared before the three-judge panel, psychiatric evaluations determined he was sane.
Interviews and confessions captured on tape formed the basis of the prosecution’s case. In one, Cooey described tying a shoelace around Offredo’s neck and watching as she died slowly.
He was convicted and sentenced to the electric chair after a two-day trial, making him the youngest inmate on Ohio’s de*ath row.
The trial of Charles Dickens, also before a three-judge panel, began and concluded on January 5. He pled not guilty. Coroner was the only witness called by the prosecution. The defence did not call any witnesses. Within ten minutes, the judges rendered a guilty verdict and sentenced the defendant to life in prison.
In 2003, Cooey’s appeals had been exhausted, and prosecutors demanded an execution date. The electric chair was no longer in use, so he was scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on July 24, 2003.
Cooey expressed regret and appeared resigned to his fate during an interview on July 16. “I cannot stop it,” he told the Akron Beacon Journal. “Only the courts can put a stop to it.”
Twelve hours before he was to be executed, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s decision to allow a new attorney on his team time to study the case. Appeals prolonged the execution by several years. Cooey filed a final appeal in April 2008, claiming that the lethal injection would be painful and cruel and unusual punishment. When that failed, he altered his strategy.
The headline in the Troy (Ohio) Daily News read, “Man says he’s too fat to be executed.”
This was not a novel argument, despite how odd it seemed. A few other condemned inmates had utilised the same strategy. In 1994, a judge in the state of Washington ruled that a 425-pound mu*rderer was too heavy to be executed by hanging. In prison, he died of natural causes.
But it was unsuccessful for Cooey. On October 14, 2008, it took five minutes for the execution team to locate a vein. When asked if he had any final remarks, Cooey snarled, “You [expletive] haven’t listened to anything I’ve said in the past 22 12 years, so why should anyone listen to anything I have to say now?”