Prison staff say inmate awaiting execution is ‘calm’

By Marc Kovac


Prison staff described the Mansfield man set for execution as “calm and quiet” after arriving at the state death house in Lucasville on Tuesday.

Steven Smith, convicted in the brutal rape and murder of a 6-month-old girl nearly 15 years ago, was transferred to the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility just before 10 a.m. Tuesday, where he spent his final day of life in a holding cell, a short walk down the hall from the chamber where he will be put to death today.

An initial assessment identified veins that will carry his lethal injection as “accessible” and “palpable,” according to JoEllen Smith, spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

Smith was convicted in the September 1998 murder of Autumn Carter after an evening of beer drinking. According to documents, Smith raped the 6-month-old for 10 to 30 minutes, turning the volume of the television up loud enough to drown out the baby’s cries. He suffocated her in the process, then placed the body in bed with her mother.

Public defenders argued that Smith was too drunk to understand the consequences of his actions and that he did not intend to murder Autumn and should not have been given the death penalty.

But prosecutors countered that Smith was coherent the night of the murder and tried to hide evidence in the case, dumping a diaper, beer cans and a shirt in an outdoor trash container.

Gov. John Kasich already has denied clemency in the case.

Smith requested pepperoni pizza, ham and sausage, fish, french fries, chocolate ice cream and Mountain Dew for his special evening meal Tuesday.

Witnesses for the execution could include the mother and grandmother and Smith’s daughter and niece.

His lethal injection is scheduled for 10 a.m. today, barring last-minute court intervention.

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