Ohio executes Toledo killer with single-dose drug
By Marc Kovac
With one brother pounding a wall in the witness room a few feet away and another vowing to clear his name, Johnnie Baston became the first inmate in the nation put to death with a single dose of a barbiturate previously unused in Ohio’s lethal injections.
Otherwise, the execution at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville on Thursday took place without complication, with Baston succumbing to a lethal dose of Pentobarbital, a drug commonly used to induce coma in surgery patients and to euthanize pets.
“I hope my execution that it will be the last,” Baston said moments before he closed his eyes for the last time. “The victims in my case didn’t want me to be executed. They wanted life without parole. That should have been respected; that should have been respected by our governor.”
Baston became the 43rd inmate executed in Ohio since the state restarted capital punishment in 1999 and the second put to death this year.
The Ohio Supreme Court has executions scheduled through November and next January and February.
Baston was convicted in the 1994 murder of Chong Mah, a Toledo store owner, during a robbery.
For years, he denied guilt in the case, saying another man spearheaded the robbery and used his gun to commit the murder.
That’s the story he repeated to the state parole board last month, with hopes of gaining a sentence commutation to life in prison.
But the parole board recommended against clemency, and Gov. John Kasich denied the request late last week.
In recent days, state prison officials said Baston had confessed to the crime, a statement his brother disputed before Thursday’s execution.
Richard Baston said there was miscommunication during an attempted lie-detector test at the Ohio State Penitentiary on Friday.
He said Baston did not confess the murder, and he said his family would work to clear his name.
“Is justice really being done here?” Richard Baston asked. “No. We think it’s all about profit. It’s not about justice. And that must change in this state and many other states.” And as long as I live and breathe, I’m going to make sure it’s done.”
The closest Baston came to a confession came in the final moments of his final statement.
“Dear Heavenly Father, I have sinned, and I repent of my sins,” he said. “I pray for forgiveness, as I closed my eyes on the light of this world, I hope to open my eyes to the light in heaven.”
His brothers, Richard and Ron, witnessed the execution.
As the lethal injection was being administered, Ron stood up in his chair, angrily pounded the wall, then crumpled into the chair in a stream of tears and expletives.
“We’ll clear his name,” Richard Baston said as he comforted his brother.
No representatives of the Mah family were at the execution.