Mark Wiles first prisoner executed by Ohio in six months

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As more than a dozen people gathered in the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility parking lot Wednesday to protest state executions, Mark Wiles awaited his lethal injection.

Wiles died at 10:42 a.m. in the Lucasville facility, marking Ohio’s first execution since November.

Gov. John Kasich denied requests to postpone Wiles’ execution, after being sentenced to death for killing his previous employer’s son during a burglary in 1985. Ohioans to Stop Executions and People of Faith Against the Death Penalty submitted a letter on behalf of more than 200 religious leaders Monday to Kasich. They asked that Wiles be sentenced to life in prison without parole, the Associated Press reported.

Sister Alice Gerdeman, of Cincinnati, led Wednesday’s protestors in prayer for Wiles, his victim, 15-year-old Mark Klima, and their families and friends.

“It’s more of a prayer witness than a protest,” Gerdeman said. “No one should have to die alone.”

U.S. District Judge Gregory Frost of the Southern District of Ohio originally suspended capital punishment in January but issued an order April 4 to allow it to continue. Frost told the Associated Press he believed the prison department has “taken sufficient steps to improve its execution procedures.” He also stated Wiles failed to prove that Ohio’s executions laws are not unconstitutional in his case to have his April 18 execution postponed.

Frost is skeptical about the legality of Ohio’s death penalty, but allowed capital punishment to resume.

“Ohio’s committed to carrying out executions in a dignified, professional and constitutional manner,” Frost told the Associated Press. “This decision recognizes the hundreds of hours of training and preparation put in by the staff involved with this process.”

Frost suspended capital punishment in January because Ohio’s prison department was not following correct procedures to execute inmates.

Charles Lorraine, who fatally stabbed an elderly couple in 1986, was scheduled to die Jan. 18 this year, but Frost halted his execution.

“The ruling makes it clear that the Constitution protects all individuals against the power of the state and that the government, too, must follow the law,” Allen Bohnert, one of Lorraine’s attorneys, told the Associated Press.

Frost told the Associated Press that the Department of Corrections “left him no choice by disobeying his previous orders.” He said the state failed to record the drugs used in a November execution. The state also did not review the inmate’s medical charts before his execution.

The state’s execution process first came under scrutiny when the execution of Romell Broom was unsuccessful.

Broom, who raped and murdered a 14-year-old in 1984, was scheduled to die Sept. 15, 2009. The state failed to execute him by lethal injection after attempting to find a vein for two hours.

Frost also halted Broom’s execution, and former Gov. Ted Strickland later called it off. Broom’s lawyers told the Associated Press that Broom is too traumatized for a second attempt, and the state does not have the right to try to execute him again.

Since then, the prison department has created new procedures to try and address Ohio’s capital punishment issues, which they presented to Frost in March during an eight-day trial.

“Ohio’s new procedures look good on paper. The words of those state agents who testified sound promising. No one questions their proper intentions,” Frost told the Associated Press. “Procedures, promises and purposed are of little value if they are not fulfilled.”

Wiles is the first person to be put to death in Ohio this year and the fourteenth in the nation.

Contact Rachel Hagenbaugh at [email protected] and Britni Williams at [email protected].