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Execute obese inmate soon; deny parole to Valley killer



Published: Fri, September 5, 2008 @ 12:00 a.m.

Execute obese inmate soon; deny parole to Valley killer

The Ohio Parole Board exercised sound judgment this week in denying mercy to Richard Wade Cooey II, better known as the “I’m-too-fat-to-die” Death Row inmate. It should use similar sound judgment in denying parole to a Boardman killer next month.

On Tuesday, the parole board ruled against sparing the life of Cooey, the murderer of two University of Akron students in the early 1980s because it could find no “manifest injustice” that the state committed against the killer, kidnapper, rapist and robber who has been on Death Row since 1986.

The only manifest injustice in this case is that committed by lawyers and the state and federal judiciary that allowed the execution to be delayed the past 22 years.

Sadly, justice could continue to be deferred as Cooey carries on an appeal in federal appeals court that argues that his execution would constitute cruel and unusual punishment because of his morbid obesity.

Cooey argues that his 270-pound, 5-foot 7-inch frame, his sparse veins and migraine medication could make the lethal injection process unconstitutionally cruel.

His vapid whining carries to an extreme the many tortured arguments advanced in recent years that had effectively put capital punishment on hold in most states. But with a Supreme Court ruling last spring that lethal injection is not inherently cruel and unusual, the Appeals Court should handily dismiss his suit, Gov. Ted Strickland should formalize the parole board’s denial of clemency and Cooey should be executed this Oct. 14 as scheduled.

All of the long and twisting legal wrangling has cost taxpayers thousands of dollars in keeping the killer alive and postponing the day when the family and friends of Cooey’s helpless victims can at last find some semblance of justice and closure.

No reprieve for Valley killer

It is that same sense of justice that a Youngstown family seeks in its efforts to ensure the killer of a family member is not paroled this year for his heinous crime.

On Nov. 14, 1988, Thomas A. Beno, 43, was shot seven times at the Boardman home of his new in-laws only hours after his marriage that day to Lorie D. Elder.

Her stepfather, Thomas A. Kemp, now 64, pleaded no contest to aggravated murder, kidnapping and felonious assault and was sentenced to 23 years-to-life in prison. His plea spared him from the possibility of execution.

Now, 20 years later the family of Beno has taken out advertisements in The Vindicator to encourage those who knew Beno and who oppose parole for Kemp to write letters to the parole board. A parole hearing for Kemp is scheduled next month.

We urge residents who care about adequate justice to flood the parole board with letters. The family requests they be sent to 2219 Kensington Ave., Youngstown 44505, where they will collect and deliver them.

Kemp got a pass from the death sentence by pleading to the charges. The killer does not deserve another pass in the form of early end to an already generously light sentence.

As long as the criminal justice system continues to coddle rapists and murderers like Cooey and Kemp, capital criminals will continue to believe they can skirt capital consequences. Moreover, victims’ families and friends will continue to anguish in a seemingly endless and futile fight for justice.


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