Ohio Death Row inmate Gary Otte was executed this morning, the second of 26 executions scheduled for this year through 2022.
Otte, 45, killed two people in a crime spree over two days in Parma in February 1992. Otte shot Robert Wasikowski in the head, robbed him in his apartment and then played pool, drank and took drugs all night long. The next night, he shot Sharon Kostura in the head, took $45 from her purse and took her car keys and checkbook. Kostura died eight days later.
Ohio executed child killer Ronald Phillips in July for the 1993 beating, rape and murder of his girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter. That marked the first time the state had carried out the death penalty since the execution of Dennis McGuire in January 2014. Witnesses said McGuire gasped and choked as the execution took 26 minutes.
The Adult Parole Board voted 11-0 against recommending clemency for Otte and the governor agreed.
According to testimony at Otte’s clemency hearing, Otte was bullied as a child, had twice attempted suicide by eighth grade, became a habitual runaway by tenth grade, dropped out of school in his senior year and became a crack addict. Otte told the board that he became a changed man in prison.
Many of the men scheduled for execution in Ohio suffered childhood trauma, serious mental illness and intellectual impairment, according to the Fair Punishment Project at Harvard University.
Ohio, which has 139 inmates on Death Row, adopted its current death penalty law in 1981. Since executions resumed in 1999, Ohio has put to death 54 men.
In 2014, a task force appointed by the Ohio Supreme Court recommended 56 changes to make the capital punishment system better. The task force called for the biggest overhaul of Ohio’s capital punishment system in decades but just a handful of those recommendations have been implemented.
Related: Execution costs rising