U.S. To Continue Executions Through Transition In Break

The Justice Department is proceeding with plans for more federal executions in the closing days of President Trump's administration, including two scheduled shortly before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. Attorney General William Barr announced the moves, connected with what he called "staggeringly brutal murders," in a statement late Friday. The Justice Department said the directives amounted to a continuation of its policy since last year when it relaunched federal executions after an informal moratorium that had been in place for 17 years. If the Justice Department plan moves forward, 13 people will have faced death by lethal injection during the Trump administration. Legal experts who follow capital punishment said that would be the most since the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who served 12 years in office before his death in 1945. RELATED |  U.S.: Barr's Justice Department Prepares To End Trump's Term With an Execution Spree Robert Du

Ohio executes Frank G. Spisak Jr.

Frank G. Spisak Jr.
Serial killer Frank G. Spisak Jr., a Hitler devotee whose 1982 murder spree on the Cleveland State University campus terrified a city, was executed Thursday morning, the state said.

The death sentence was carried out at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility via intravenous lethal injection. The time of death was 10:34 a.m. His sentence was imposed in 1983 by the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.

Spisak, 59, read his final statement — a German language reading of Revelation 21:1-7 — which begins, “Then I saw a new heaven and earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away."

In a prepared statement, Cora Warford, the mother of one of Spisak’s victims, said, “In memory of my baby boy, Brian Warford, I can finally say justice has been served. Spisak will have to stand before a higher court one day as we all will, and may God have mercy on his soul.”

Witnesses to Thursday’s lethal injection were to include Brian Warford’s two brothers, the daughter of victim Timothy Sheehan, and John Hardaway, who survived being shot by Spisak. The lead prosecutor in the case, Donald Nugent, now a federal judge, also was to witness the execution. Spisak’s attorneys and a friend, Bill Kimberlin, were to witness on his behalf.

Kimberlin is a professor of psychology at Lorain Community College who studies death row inmate. Kimberlin became acquainted with Spisak while doing that research, said Carlo LoPara, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

Spisak, 59, arrived at the Lucasville prison from death row in Mansfield just before 10 a.m. Wednesday. “His mood was calm and reserved,” LoParo said.

He ate a “special meal” of spaghetti, tossed salad, chocolate cake, root beer and coffee Wednesday night, LoParo said. He spent the night resting in bed and listening to music. He wrote a letter.

Two priests conducted a Roman Catholic Mass for Spisak at the death house at 7 a.m. Thursday, three hours before the scheduled execution. “There was an indication during the Mass he was a bit emotional,” LoParo said.

He said Spisak’s body is to be cremated and the state will handle disposition of the remains.

A self-acknowledged disciple of Adolf Hitler, Spisak, 59, killed 3 men, wounded Hardaway and shot at a woman. He later admitted he went on “hunting parties” to kill blacks in hopes of fomenting a race war in Cleveland.

The survivors later identified Spisak as their assailant. Spisak admitted to the crimes, but unsuccessfully argued at his 1983 trial that he was legally insane.

In a clemency report last month that unanimously recommended against sparing Spisak’s life, the Ohio Parole Board told Gov. John Kasich that Spisak remains fascinated by Nazis and still reads books about Hitler, though he says he no longer agrees with Hitler’s philosophies. Spisak has said he learned racial tolerance by associating with blacks on death row.

“Spisak’s expressions of remorse for his victims are insincere and manipulative,” the report said. It noted that in 2004, Spisak wrote a threatening letter to the son of one of his victims. The son, Brendan Sheehan, was an assistant Cuyahoga County prosecutor and is now a common pleas judge.

Kasich denied clemency, and a federal appeals court on Tuesday denied Spisak’s last-minute bid for a stay of execution. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to step in.

Spisak’s attorneys attempted to halt the execution by quoting anti-death penalty statements this year by former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Paul Pfeifer, a Republican who helped to write the state’s death penalty law while in the legislature. Pfeifer said he no longer supports the death penalty and the process lacks the proper reviews.

Spisak is to be the last Ohio inmate to be executed using the drug sodium thiopental, whose production in Italy has been discontinued amid controversy about its use in capital punishment.

The state intends to use another single drug — Pentobarbital, also known as Nembutal — in future executions, beginning with that of Johnnie Baston of Toledo on March 10. Including Spisak, 9 executions are set for 2011 in Ohio.

Spisak becomes the 1st condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Ohio and the 42nd overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1999.

Spisak becomes the 7th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in the USA and the 1241st overall since the nation resumed executions on January 17, 1977.

Related article: "Two voices, one story", Gamso for the Defense, Feb. 17, 2011

Sources: Springfield News Sun, Rick Halperin, Feb. 17, 2011
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