Court won't stop execution of sick inmate who needs pillow

Court won't stop execution of sick inmate who needs pillow

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio prepared on Tuesday to execute a sick inmate who will be provided a wedge-shaped pillow to help him breathe as he's put to death this week.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to stop the execution of death row prisoner Alva Campbell, who appeared to be out of options.

Last week, Republican Gov. John Kasich rejected Campbell's request for clemency. A message was left with the inmate's attorneys seeking comment.

Campbell arrived Tuesday at the state death house at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, about 85 miles (137 kilometres ) south of Columbus. Prisons spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said Campbell was calm.

Campbell's attorneys have argued he is too ill for a lethal injection and he should be spared because of a brutal childhood.

Campbell, 69, became mildly agitated when officials tried lowering him to a normal execution position during an exam last month, according to a medical review by a physician contractor for the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

Dr. James McWeeney noted there were no objective findings such as increased pulse rate or breathing to corroborate Campbell's anxiety. Nevertheless, he recommended allowing Campbell to lie "in a semi-recumbent position" during the execution.

The exam failed to find veins suitable for inserting an IV on either of Campbell's arms.

Campbell has chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder as the result of a decades-long two-pack-a-day smoking habit, the prison's doctor said.

Campbell's attorneys say he uses a walker, relies on a colostomy bag, requires four breathing treatments a day and may have lung cancer. The attorneys have warned that Campbell's death could become a "spectacle" if guards are unable to find suitable veins in his arms.

Smith, the prisons spokeswoman, said Monday that Campbell's "medical condition and history are being assessed and considered in order to identify any necessary accommodations or contingencies for his execution."

The brother, sister and uncle of Charles Dials, fatally shot by Campbell during a 1997 carjacking, will witness the execution. Four attorneys will witness on behalf of Campbell.

Campbell's last meal, called a special meal in Ohio, includes pork chops, greens, sweet potato pie, mashed potatoes and gravy, macaroni and cheese and milk.

Earlier this month, Campbell lost a bid to be executed by firing squad after a federal judge questioned whether lawmakers would enact the bill needed to allow the method.

Franklin County prosecutor Ron O'Brien has called Campbell "the poster child for the death penalty."

Prosecutors said Campbell's health claims are ironic given he faked paralysis to escape court custody the day of the fatal carjacking.

On April 2, 1997, Campbell was in a wheelchair when he overpowered a Franklin County sheriff's deputy on the way to a court hearing on several armed robbery charges, records show.

Campbell took the deputy's gun, carjacked the 18-year-old Dials and drove around with him for several hours before shooting Dials twice in the head as Dials crouched in the footwell of his own truck, according to court records.

He was charged with aggravated murder, kidnapping and aggravated robbery. He didn't dispute the charges and was found guilty by a jury.

Campbell was regularly beaten, sexually abused and tortured as a child, his attorneys have argued in court filings and before the Ohio Parole Board.

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Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/awhcolumbus.

Andrew Welsh-Huggins, The Associated Press