Ohio set to execute two-time killer after court rejects appeals

(Reuters) - Ohio is set to execute a man who murdered two people on Wednesday, its second execution in 2017 after a three-year hiatus because of legal challenges and difficulties obtaining lethal injection drugs.

Gary Otte, 45, was found guilty of murder of two home-invasion murders at a suburban Cleveland apartment complex in 1992.

The Ohio Supreme Court on Wednesday morning declined Otte's appeal for a stay he had sought on the grounds that it was unconstitutional to execute inmates who were younger than 21 at the time of their crime. The U.S. Supreme Court previously outlawed executions for those under 18 at the time of their crime.

Otte is scheduled to be executed by injection on Wednesday at 10 a.m. local time at a prison in Lucasville, Ohio.

On Feb. 12, 1992, Otte shot Robert Wasikowski, 61, in the head from less than 2 feet away and stole $413, according to court documents.

He returned to the apartment complex the next day and shot Sharon Kostura, 45, in the head before stealing $45, her car keys and a checkbook, documents show.

Republican Governor John Kasich rejected a clemency request from Otte on Sept. 1.

Otte spent Tuesday night on the phone with relatives and friends, the Toledo Blade reported. His last meal included a hamburger with Swiss cheese, soda and doughnuts, prison officials said.

Ohio halted executions in 2015 due to the difficulty in obtaining lethal injection drugs. The following year, the state said it would restart executions using a new three-drug protocol.

Otte also lost an appeal challenging the use of midazolam as a sedative in that protocol. Several U.S. states have used midazolam in executions, including Oklahoma and Arizona, in which witnesses said inmates appeared to twist in pain on death row gurneys during the process.

A U.S. appeals court in June lifted a preliminary injunction, clearing the way to resume executions. In July, Ohio put to death Ronald Phillips, 43, convicted of raping and killing a 3-year-old child.

For Otte's execution, Ohio plans to use midazolam followed by rocuronium bromide to halt his breathing and potassium chloride to cause cardiac arrest.

After Otte, 25 people are slated for execution in Ohio through 2022.

(Reporting by Chris Kenning; Editing by Bill Trott)

09/13/2017 9:59

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