Wednesday, May 17, 2006

May 2, 2006

...the nearly 90 minutes it took Ohio to execute Clark is believed to be the second-longest lethal injection on record.....

Last Meal: Clark had a final "special meal" request of jumbo shrimp; a T-bone steak with A-1 steak sauce; fried chicken wings; french fries; dinner rolls; cherry pie; and Pepsi.

The skinny: Clark, 57, was executed for killing a gas station clerk during a spree of robberies in 1984 in which he also killed a convenience store worker. Clark was executed following a delay of more than an hour because of unprecedented difficulty administering the lethal injection.

More skinny: The victim, age 23, was working alone at a service station in Toledo when Clark entered armed with a .32 caliber handgun and demanded money. After handing over $60 to Clark, the man was shot once in the chest, killing him. Three days later, Clark was arrested on bank robbery charges. A .32 caliber handgun was found on his person. In jail, Clark attempted to hang himself. After his release from the hospital, Clark admitted to the shooting, but claimed the victim had come at him with a pipe during the robbery.

This was one in a string of robberies in a two-week period committed, according to Clark, to support a drug habit. Clark first robbed one victim at gunpoint, then killed two victims, and finally seriously wounded a fourth victim.

Clark had a long criminal history, and was also sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of the second man.

Leading up to: Clark had been facing execution longer than all but 11 of the 193 men on Death Row and has no legal appeals left.

He dined on surf and turf and talked with family by phone yesterday as the hour of his death approached. He salso moked cigarettes and talked with members of the team preparing to execute him.

Last words and such: Clark calmly but tearfully proceeded to give the longest final statement a lethal injection inmate has given. In his final statement, Clark said, “I would like to tell them young brothers and sisters also all over the world, do not let drugs ruin your life, ruin your body, and destroy your mind. Today my life is being taken because of drugs. If you live by the sword, you die by the sword.” After a long speech in which he thanked his family and friends, apologized to his victims’ families, and preached against the dangers of drugs, Clark quoted from the Martin Luther King, Jr., “I Have a Dream” speech in declaring himself: “Free at last. Free at last. Thank God Almighty, I am free at last.” Clark made a final statement apologizing to his victims' families and saying "I would like to say to family and friends that I didn't get to talk to, ... that was wondering how I felt, I would like them to know that I asked God to forgive me, that I asked the Lord to save me from my sins. And I asked God to forgive those who are participating in this here today."

The delay and the aftermath: The execution team at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville worked for about 25 minutes to find a suitable vein in Clark’s right arm before continuing with a shunt in his left arm. "It don’t work," Clark said as the team tried to start the injection. Prison officials later said his vein had collapsed. A curtain behind a glass panel separating him from witnesses to the execution was closed, but Clark could be heard moaning and groaning. The execution resumed about 40 minutes later after another vein was found.

The nearly 90 minutes it took Ohio to execute Joseph Lewis Clark on Tuesday is believed to be the second-longest lethal injection on record in the United States.

Defense lawyers and death penalty opponents said that the unprecedented difficulties in executing Clark illustrated the problems with a method of capital punishment they call unconstitutional.

Problems finding a suitable vein in which to inject drugs to kill Joseph Lewis Clark on Tuesday demonstrated the complications that can arise, said David Bodiker, Ohio’s public defender. His office has sued the state to challenge the effectiveness of its method of lethal injection. "I think that this underlines or emphasizes the fact that we’re not capable of actually imposing a formula for taking the life of the people on Death Row and doing it a manner that we have committed to which is painless and efficient."

Factoids: Clark was the...

17th murderer executed in U.S. in 2006
1021st murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
2nd murderer executed in Ohio in 2006
21st murderer executed in Ohio since 1976