July 24, 2016

Partly cloudy

Coroner: No autopsy for convicted killer

No autopsy is planned for convicted killer Ronald Ray Post, who died Thursday while serving a life prison sentence after Ohio Gov. John Kasich commuted his death sentence last year.

Franklin County Coroner Jan Gorniak said Friday that although her office has taken possession of the 53-year-old Post’s body, the only reason it did so is because the Franklin Medical Center, which serves as the state’s prison hospital, doesn’t have a morgue.

She said Post died of natural causes and no further examination will take place. Post’s body will remain in the morgue until funeral arrangements are made.

Court records indicate that Post suffered from a myriad medical problems, including obesity, which his attorneys had argued would make it difficult for him to be humanely executed through the state’s lethal injection protocols.

Post originally was given a death sentence after he pleaded no contest to the Dec. 15, 1983, shooting death of Elyria motel clerk Helen Vantz, who was killed during a robbery at the Slumber Inn.

The Ohio Parole Board recommended the governor spare Post because of the manner in which the death sentence was handed down.

The Parole Board concluded that Post received inadequate legal representation from trial attorneys Mike Duff and now-retired Lorain County Common Pleas Judge Lynett McGough, who had disagreed about whether Post should plead no contest or guilty.

McGough wanted Post to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence while Duff urged the no contest plea to preserve an appeals issue. There was also some belief that one of the members of the three-judge panel never would impose the death penalty because of his Catholic faith.

Kasich ultimately agreed with the Parole Board and spared Post.

He later met with Vantz’s family and agreed to personally call the families of murder victims when he decided to spare a condemned killer.

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