Judge rejects Ohio killer's execution stay request

COLUMBUS (AP) — Changes Ohio made to its written capital-punishment policies in two previous executions weren’t significant enough to create constitutional violations, a federal judge said today as he rejected a condemned killer’s attempt to stop his execution next week.

Death row inmate Brett Hartman argues the state changed its procedures during April and September executions, and he also challenged the constitutionality of allowing the state to cut short inmates’ final statements.

U.S. District Judge Gregory Frost said Hartman hadn’t provided enough evidence he could successfully defend his arguments at trial. And he criticized the method Hartman’s lawyers used for raising the challenge.

“Ohio does not have a perfect execution system, but it has a constitutional system that it appears to be following,” Judge Frost said in his 56-page decision.

Hartman, 38, is scheduled to die Nov. 13 for the Sept. 9, 1997, slaying of 46-year-old Winda Snipes of Akron. Snipes was beaten, strangled with a cord, stabbed 138 times, had her throat slit and her hands cut off, records show.

Hartman claims he is innocent, but has also argued that if courts reject that argument, he should be spared because of the effects of a “remarkably chaotic and nomadic early childhood.” Hartman’s attorneys also say he is a changed man after 15 years in prison.

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