Saturday, June 12, 2004

June 8, 2004

..."He has gone as far as putting toilet paper in his ears."...

Last Meal: The evening before, Zuern had a special meal of lasagna, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn with hot sauce, garlic bread, macaroni and cheese, chocolate milk and cherry cheesecake.

The next morning he ate four pancakes, cereal, orange juice and milk for breakfast.

The Skinny: Zuern was executed for the fatal stabbing a corrections officer 20 years ago. Acting on a tip, the officer and 3 other jailers went to Zuern's cell to check it for weapons. They found Zuern standing in his cell, naked. When the cell door swung open, Zuern lunged at the officer and stabbed him in the chest with a sharpened bucket hook. The shank pierced three holes in the man's heart.

The Lead-up: Shortly after arriving at the maximum-security prison in Lucasville on Monday from death row at the prison in Mansfield, he asked for the Bible to be removed from his holding cell. It was.

He was offered a shower, but declined. He refused to communicate with the preparation team. The team, designed to answer the condemned's questions and take care of physical needs, said Zuern took extreme measures to avoid them. "He has gone as far as putting toilet paper in his ears," a spokeswoman said this morning. He has also turned his back to the counselors, turned his face to the wall and stared at the ceiling, she said.

At Zuern's request, his last effects will be destroyed: five books, a radio, a typewriter, a fan, envelopes, toiletries, hot sauce, cocoa butter and garlic butter.

Final words and such: The condemned was dressed in a prison-issued white shirt, blue pants with red stripes running down each side, and white socks. He wore his own brown hiking boots. His head was shaven, and he wore a thick beard without a moustache.

The warden picked up a microphone and asked, "Mr. Zuern, do you have any last statement you would like to make?" "Nope," was Zuern's terse reply as he stared at the ceiling.

Aftermath: After Zuern was pronounced dead, witnesses were led back through a courtyard where a black Cadillac hearse awaited. Zuern was transported to a local funeral home and will be buried in a state-run cemetery adjacent to a prison. His family did not have the means to arrange a private burial. A prison minister will preside.

Factoids: There are now 208 inmates on death row in Ohio, including one woman.

Zuern was the...

28th murderer executed in U.S. in 2004
913th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
4th murderer executed in Ohio in 2004
12th murderer executed in Ohio since 1976