Court rejects Ohio killer's age argument as execution nears
By ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS, Associated Press
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A condemned Ohio killer of two people lost another appeal as the state prepared to put him to death Wednesday.
Gary Otte arrived at the death house in southern Ohio shortly before 10 a.m. Tuesday, prisons spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said.
Inmates are typically transported to the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility from death row — currently housed in Chillicothe — about 24 hours in advance of their execution. The last day is spent with visitors.
Around the same time Otte reached the prison Tuesday, an appeals court rejected his arguments that he shouldn’t be put to death because of his age at the time of the crime.
Lawyers for Otte wanted the court to follow the ruling of a Kentucky court last month that found the death penalty unconstitutional for people who were under 21 at the time their crimes were committed.
Otte, now 45, was 20 when he killed Robert Wasikowski and Sharon Kostura in Parma, in suburban Cleveland, in 1992.
Otte’s argument can’t be raised under Ohio law or current federal court rulings, the 8th Ohio District Court of Appeals said.
The Kentucky court ruling isn’t binding on Ohio courts and the U.S. Supreme Court hasn’t recognized Otte’s under 21 age argument, the appeals court said.
The high court has previously declared capital punishment unconstitutional for those under 18 at the time their crimes were committed.
A message was left with Otte’s attorneys seeking comment.
Last week, a federal judge rejected Otte’s argument that the first drug in Ohio’s lethal injection method, a sedative called midazolam, creates an unconstitutional risk of serious pain by failing to render inmates deeply unconscious. Otte is not appealing that decision.
Otte will be housed in a cell near the death chamber for the rest of Tuesday and early Wednesday.
His requested final meal, called the special meal in Ohio, includes a mushroom and Swiss cheese hamburger, a quart of Heath Bar ice cream and a slice of banana cream pie.
Relatives of Wasikowski and Kostura planned to witness the execution. Ministers and a nurse observing the procedure in case of problems planned to witness on Otte’s behalf.
Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/awhcolumbus.