COLUMBUS, Ohio – The governor has agreed to a rare meeting with the family of a murder victim whose morbidly obese killer he spared from execution.
The meeting follows Gov. John Kasich’s decision in December to grant clemency to Ronald Post on the grounds that he had poor legal representation. Kasich said at the time that all criminal defendants deserve adequate defenses.
This decision should not be viewed by anyone as a diminishing of this awful crime or the pain it has caused, Kasich added in a statement.
Kasich’s decision was unrelated to Post’s better-known argument: that at 450 pounds he was too fat to be executed humanely in the 1983 shooting death of Elyria motel clerk Helen Vantz during a robbery.
The Morning Journal of Lorain reported Friday that Vantz’s oldest son, Michael Vantz, hopes to meet with Kasich next month.
Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said he was unaware of a similar meeting in the past.
The family proposes a non-hostile, non-threatening venue of your choice, for a meeting, according to a Dec. 28 letter to Kasich from Michael Vantz that was provided Friday to The AP.
Lacking the actual, long, long awaited execution, the next best thing for the members of the immediate and extended family of Helen Vantz would be an audience with the powerful individual who deemed that execution to be inappropriate, the letter said. Only a face-to-face with you would suffice in the absence of the fulfillment of the justice.
Kasich, a Republican, commuted Post’s death sentence to life without the possibility of parole, a decision applauded by Post’s attorneys.
Kasich also spared killer John Eley in 2012, basing his decision on Eley acting under the direction of another person and what he called Eley’s limited mental capacity.
It’s more common for governors planning clemency to meet with family members of victims before announcing their decisions, said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, a group in Washington, D.C., opposed to capital punishment.