July 24, 2016

Partly cloudy

Life-sentence killer dies in hospital

Convicted killer Ronald Ray Post, who was spared a January date with the executioner’s needle when his death sentence was commuted to life in prison by Gov. John Kasich last year, died in a prison hospital Thursday.

Post, 53, died at the Franklin Medical Center in Columbus, said Ricky Seyfang, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. Post was serving time for the Dec. 15, 1983, murder of Elyria motel clerk Helen Vantz, who was shot in the head during Post’s robbery of the Slumber Inn.

Seyfang said a cause of death wasn’t available Thursday. She also said she couldn’t comment on Post’s medical condition because of health care privacy laws, but court documents filed during Post’s bid to avoid lethal injection last year indicated that he had been in failing health for years.

Among the medical issues plaguing Post, according to the documents, were a history of heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems such as varicose veins. He also reportedly suffered from depression and joint problems and had scarring on his body from a previous suicide attempt.

Post’s attorneys argued that his weight of more than 480 pounds in 2012 should spare him from death because the execution team would have difficulty placing the shunts into his veins necessary to deliver the lethal overdose of sedative used in Ohio to kill condemned inmates.

The state argued that Post had lost weight and could be executed safely and humanely.

Contact reporter Brad Dicken at (440) 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.