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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.


1NoBS(2758 comments)posted 7 years, 9 months ago

All right, if Cooey is too fat to die by means of lethal injection, he's not too fat for the firing squad. He's not too fat for the hangman's noose. He's not too fat for the gas chamber.

I'll give him that he's original, trying to weasel his way out of his sentence by stuffing himself, but 270 lbs isn't morbidly obese by any standards I ever saw. Of course, if we give him another 5 or 10 years on Death Row, he could plump himself up to real obesity.

Maybe they should put him on bread and water, and get is butt out for some exercise every day.

Sorry, but I have no pity for someone who killed two coeds and was put on Death Row 22 years ago, and is still there. Of course the death penalty isn't much of a deterrent if you're going to get a private room, hot food, clean clothes and sheets, and all that, for more than two decades, all the while entertaining the very real possibility that another Dick Celeste will appear in the governor's office.

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2Ralph(12 comments)posted 7 years, 9 months ago

I realize that I'm swimming upstream here. But, I feel that I have to speak out. Dozens of people from this area have been convicted of murder in the past 30 years. Large numbers of these offenders have been paroled, most without notice by the media. I simply do not understand why one individual has been singled out for piling on by the Vindicator and WYTV and, as a result, we have this sudden call for a "flood of letters" to keep Tom Kemp in prison. Tom Kemp's father and my father were best friends. I grew up with Tom Kemp. And, I have to tell you, except for the events of Nov. 4, 1988, I have never known him to hurt anyone. Tom was certainly not a mean spirited person. I do not know exactly what took place that awful day, and I do not attempt to excuse his action, but it was not premeditated and was certainly out of character for him.

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3Ralph(12 comments)posted 7 years, 9 months ago

I ran out of space. We have a parole system for a reason. Our system of corrections is based on the premise that people can be rehabilitated. Some may disagree with that, but, it is the way it works. After 20 years in prison, I feel that Tom Kemp is a excellent candidate for parole. I feel the parole board should judge him on his own merits, not on the results of letter writing campaign from people who, many of whom, knew neither Mr. Beno or Tom Kemp. A few weeks ago, a notorious mob killer was paroled and the Vindicator barely took notice no did it object. There is an element of fairness lacking here.

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4Anita(20 comments)posted 7 years, 9 months ago

I read the article in Tuesday's Vindicator where Mr. Beno's daughter, 16 at the time of her father's killing, 36 now, is going to speak to the parole board about keeping her father's killer in jail. Makes sense to me. What doesn't make sense to me is that her daughter, age 16, is also going to speak to the parole board. Unless my math is wrong, this girl wasn't born until 4 years later! This is a bit over the top. I think that as a society, we sometimes rely too much on people's feelings and too little on facts. I presume that the "notorious mob killer:" that "Ralph" referred to was Ronald Carrabia who blew up Cleveland labor leader Danny Green with a radio controlled bomb placed in a specially constructed car parked next to Mr. Green's car. Now that's premeditation. I don't recall any fuss over his parole. But, then again, he was in the mob, and this is "da Valley".

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5tracy(1 comment)posted 7 years, 9 months ago

Richard Cooey hasn't been stuffing himself for the last 22 years in an attempt to escape execution, death row inmates are fed a high fat diet of slop and they do not have access to regular exercise. They are kept in cells so small that it is impossible for them to exercise there either.
Apart from when they first arrive on the row, inmates have to pay for their clothes and toiletries and anything else they need. As they are not allowed to participate in any work projects within the prison, they have to rely on their families to send them money. Death row is not a stste funded holiday camp, it's absolute hell. Cooeys crimes are vile and he deserves to be punished, keeping him incarcerated forever will do this, killing him will solve nothing. I don't buy into this sense of closure every one thinks his death will bring, his victim's families will continue to mourn the loss of their loved ones whether he lives or dies.

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6Mimi2BC(147 comments)posted 7 years, 9 months ago

Killing him will be what a jury of his peers deemed appropriate. Futhermore, his family sends money for items to be purchased from the commissary, thue certainly couldn't afford the daily cost associated with his incarceration. He's managed to cost way more than he is worth. And if you think I feel bad about his living conditions, think again, at least he has been alive... that can't be said for his victims. Frankly, it's laughable that he ahs managed to get this large.... most inmates get ripped or lose weight.... and if the food is that bad, he could do us all a favor and starve himself!

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7Rayen1985(24 comments)posted 7 years, 9 months ago

Is he to big for a wood chipper?

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8CassAnn(252 comments)posted 7 years, 9 months ago

Tracy- you really DON'T get it. This man is a waste of space and money. Why should we the taxpayers continue to pay for his care, attorney's, and upkeep when he is lower on the species chain than an animal? Incarceration is state funded camp, not hell. They have their own social networks etc in prison and adjust to these surroundings. That's why hard core prisoners who have spent a long time in jail look for a reason to go back. They LIKE it there! As far as his claim of suffering, he SHOULD suffer! He should die the same way he killed those people, or anything worse anyone can think of to do to him. Sheesh. Maybe if we stopped being so soft and subjected these criminals to the same heinous treatment they give their victims, it might make some of these idiots think twice before killing someone.

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9JanaLeigh(3 comments)posted 7 years, 9 months ago

Ralph ~ I find it laughable that "except for the events of November 4th" you think Tom Kemp is a pretty good guy. HA! I am the niece of Tom Beno & you have little to no idea what went on the day of my uncle's murder. You say it wasn't premeditated? Holding someone at gun point for hours (hence the kidnapping charge) and then shooting him several times isn't premeditated?!

I grew up around Tom Kemp too ~ and then he shot my uncle in the back & kept on shooting, after holding him for hours at gun point on his wedding day! Yep, that is a guy I want unleashed back into society.... Hope no one else does anything to make him angry ~ Tom Kemp's temper tantrums are deadly.

My mother lost her only brother, my cousins lost their dad, my grandparents lost their only son & my sister and I lost our only uncle.... why exactly does Tom Kemp deserve parole? Answer: He doesn't ~ he has done nothing noteworthy except commit a horrible crime against an innocent man and he should remain in jail period.

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10dmets(575 comments)posted 7 years, 9 months ago

JanaLeigh: I am truly sorry for your loss. I believe Tom Kemp doesn't even belong in jail. He belongs six feet under!

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11Ralph(12 comments)posted 7 years, 9 months ago

JanaLeigh - Explain to me how Ron Carabbia, Stephen Masters, and Robert Williams all got released. Everybody knows how Carrabia blew up Danny Green. I case you forgot, Stephen Masters plotted for weeks on how to kill his wife for insurance money. Then he shot her on Valentine's day and burned the house down around her. He's out and the media didn't complain. Robert Williams went in the barber shop in Poland and, for no reason, shot and killed barber Frank Listorti and his young customer Bobby Kramer. He was released a couple of years ago and the media took no notice. If we are going to have parole, it should be fair.

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12JanaLeigh(3 comments)posted 7 years, 9 months ago

dmets: thank you for your support.

Ralph ~ these other cases have nothing to do with Tom Kemp and what he did to my uncle. I respect your opinion on parole. That is all well and good ~ however, (and I hope you never have to experience a loved one taken from you in a cold-blooded, heartless manner) it is certainly different when it involves someone you love. Your views are idealistic & it is hard to be idealistic when it is personal.

There are reasons why Kemp's parole was overturned three years ago ~ I was at the hearing and there was no question in the minds of everyone on that parole board that the only place Tom Kemp deserves to be is in jail. Tom Kemp's threats to my family, even after his conviction, should not be taken lightly ~ as we've seen he follows through on his threats with deadly force.

As for members of my family reaching out to get letters sent on behalf of my uncle ~ they have a right to do so. They aren't asking for strangers to write letters - they are asking for people who knew & loved Tom Beno to remember him by helping to keep his murderer behind bars. I am sure if you were in this situation you wouldn't begrudge anyone for trying to keep a known & admitted murderer in jail.

You said "If we are going to have parole, it should be fair.” ~ fair to the murderers or to their victims? In my opinion it is fair to appeal & overturn parole based on facts of the case & actions of the guilty party since the crime. It is absolutely fair to keep a murderer like Tom Kemp (who has shown no remorse for his crimes) in jail. What isn't fair is my uncle had no say in the ending of his life.

There is so much more to this story than you will ever know.

Respectfully yours,


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13Ralph(12 comments)posted 7 years, 9 months ago

JanaLeigh - I am not making these posts to increase anyone's misery. I remember Tom Kemp from years ago. I have not had contact with him in over 20 years. I think he should be judged on his own merits. The Vindicator called for a "flood of letters". I have no problem with people who knew Mr. Beno writing letters. That is understandable. I don't see what purpose is served by having total strangers write a "flood of letters". As for there being "so much more to this story" I can only tell you that I have heard about 50 versions already and no two of them are alike. Didn't the prosecutor's office discuss this plea arrangement with your family before Mr. Kemp pled to it? That is the usual procedure. And, that would have been the time to have opposed it.

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14JanaLeigh(3 comments)posted 7 years, 9 months ago

What I am trying to tell you Ralph is Tom Kemp has NO merits ~ The parole was overturned last time, as I've mentioned, because there are so many things about this case that you, and the public, do not know. I don't care what versions of the story you heard ~ if you haven't read the reports or attended the hearings you have no idea how twisted and sick the Kemp family really is.

In one of your first posts you stated: "After 20 years in prison, I feel that Tom Kemp is an excellent candidate for parole." And in your last post you've written: "I remember Tom Kemp from years ago. I have not had contact with him in over 20 years." What exactly makes you say he'd be an excellent candidate for parole? You are contradicting yourself.

A few things to consider while you argue for the merits & parole of murderer Tom Kemp:

1. Tom Kemp's initial bond was set at $200,000 in order to protect the rest of the Beno family (my family) due to death threats. Incidentally, he has shown no remorse for his crimes & has never retracted his threats to my family.

2. Tom Kemp had started making death threats to my uncle & family in 1987 ~ there are police reports regarding this.

3. Tom Kemp was in the Navy until he was discharged due to being "undesirable."

There are so many more things I could list, but you've obviously decided to side with a murderer & feel that 20 years is enough time for him to have paid for taking my uncle's life ~ nothing I say is going to change your mind.

Let me remind you again that the parole board overturned his parole three years ago after reviewing the case, taking into account his behavior & lack of remorse. Parole isn't something easily overturned so forgive me if I don't listen to your reasoning when my position is based on fact from those whose job it is to know who deserves parole and who doesn't.

This is my final post on the subject in regards to you Ralph ~ you are certainly entitled to your opinion, but I am not going to see it your way ~ you are an outsider arguing for the man who murdered my family member.



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15Ralph(12 comments)posted 7 years, 9 months ago

I hardly expected to change the mind of any of Mr. Beno's relatives. I understand and respect why they are doing what they are doing. But, as a friend of the Kemp family from years ago, I simply feel I should attempt to see that Mr. Kemp gets a fair and impartial hearing. Nothing more, nothing less. If he is as incorrigible as you say, then you have nothing to worry about. The parole board members will be advised of this and act accordingly. I do object to the gratutious slam at the Kemp family. Al Kemp, Tom's dad who died about 8 years ago, was one of the finest gentlemen I ever met. The one thing I simply cannot understand, is , if as you say, Mr. Kemp had been making threats against your family since 1987, and, since Mr. Beno fired Mr. Kemp from his employment over the issue of Mr. Beno's attentions to Mr. Kemp's step-daughter, then why on earth did the newlywed Beno's decide to stop and visit Mr. Kemp immediately after their wedding. I would think that would be the last place they would go. Im tired of writing on this subject also.

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16dmets(575 comments)posted 7 years, 9 months ago

Fair trail? He was convicted and sentenced to death. He should be put to death or not out early just cause he is fat. And he is not even that big. They didn't allow the woman who killed Sharon Tate out of jail, and she was dying of cancer. Come on what he did was wrong and he needs to be put to death just like he was sentenced!

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17clayor(281 comments)posted 7 years, 9 months ago

Oh Tracy.......I understand your pain feeling bad for a fat slob murderer who has been so grossly mistreated. Poor thing, eating slop in a cell he is out growing.DON'T you get it?????? He is eating, breathing and doing nothing productive for how many years while his victims have had not a breath of air nor a morsel of slop. He murdered somebody.....thats not a nice thing, Tracy, I will put this to you gently as you are obviously sensitive to the mistreatment of killers. People are dead, dead, not by their own hands or God's, someone is dead because a now FAT person killed them. A poor fat person who had to buy his own toiletries.......I think we all should write the governor to beg for a stay of execution. This SOB should have been put down way before he had the chance to get fat.Could it be , Tracy, that you are one of those jailhouse, deathrow groupies??

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18AtownParent(565 comments)posted 7 years, 9 months ago

I am beyond sick and tired of prisoners complaining about cruel and unusual punishment while in jail. That's why its called jail. Frankly, if it was cruel and unusual, we wouldn't have so many repeat offenders now would we. If jail was really the deterrent it was supposed to be, we would have a lot of reformed citizens - which we obviously do not.

If a person did something so heinous to have the death penalty levied against them, they should not have the luxury of sitting on death row getting fat. That is just ridiculous and completely preposterous. The appeal process is fluster cuck used to keep these guys in jail for far too long. And the fact that the courts are even listening to this is a startling reminder that our justice system has become to laden down with paperwork and useless motions.

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19clayor(281 comments)posted 7 years, 9 months ago

"get er done" period. Enough is enough. Sorry, Ralph, to quote whoever you like, putting lipstick on a pig, is still a pig. This man is a killer, lipstick or not, friend or foe, he did what he did and it it is done, by him. Murder is murder, no matter which way you describe it. There is NO justification. Maybe a rotisserie would be a nice start to melt off some of the fat and let him think.

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20TaraJoy(3 comments)posted 7 years, 9 months ago

Ralph...I was going to keep my mouth shut, but no longer can. I see you arguing with my cousin over the parole of my father's murderer and believe that you should hear it from someone who LIVED in the situation. I lived with my father up until that tragic day. You ask why they went to Kemp's house on their wedding day, well, i was there and i can tell you why. Lori said "she had to face the music". 32 tears old...what MUSIC do you have to face??? Now, to get to the threats of violence on my family...I AGAIN lived through those threats. I have known the Kemp family all my life, and I've seen first-hand what kind of a man Thomas Kemp is. Yes, I knew Al Kemp very well and he was a great, kind man but his son is a COLD-BLOODED KILLER!!!! Tom Kemp not only took my father's life that day but he took mine and several other family members' lives. Don't tell me about something that I lived through and am still going through today. I will be in Columbus to contest his parole and I will fight until the day God takes me to be with my daddy.

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