05 August 2008

Obesity and Lethal Injections

There is a simple question being posed by a death row inmate in a federal lawsuit that has been lodged in Ohio and that question is, "can you be too fat to be put to death by lethal injection?" By now most of my regular readers know that I am anti-death penalty and have stated my reasons for such opposition elsewhere on my blog.

The inmate, Richard Cooey, argues that because of his obesity the executioners would not be able to find suitable veins for the needle and that the drugs would have diminished effect because of his weight. The diminished effect of the drugs would seem to be the primary argument because this would conceivably render the execution cruel and unusual. A person has a lot of veins, so if one was not readily available in the inmates arms, then the executioners move to his hands, legs, and feet in search of a suitable vein. My guess is that they would find one even in a fat person. Cooey is 5'7" tall and weighs a hefty 267 pounds.

The debate about whether Cooey should die for his crime, the rape and murder of two University of Akron students back in 1986, is not the point of this post. What is the point is whether the execution of fat people by lethal injection constitutes a breach of fat people's rights to be executed in a humane way. How stupid does that sound? Is there any humane way to be executed? And should we distinguish between humane ways of execution for fat people and people whose weight falls within a recognized standard.

Although, the obesity arguments are not the only arguments being run by the Public Defender assisting Cooey. It is also alleged that the migraine medication Cooey is taking will effect the lethal injection process as Topamax, the drug Cooey is taking, is likely to block Thiopental which is the drug that knocks you out before the lethal drugs are injected.

This, according to an expert, is likely to increase the risk that Cooey is not properly anesthetized and therefore he would be getting the full enjoyment of the lethal drugs that will kill him as they are pumped into his body. I figure that perhaps the surviving members of his victims' families might not be too concerned with the idea that Cooey suffers a little excruciating pain. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth might not be such a bad thing in the thoughts of those who have suffered since 1986 with the pain of losing loved ones.

The Federal Appeals Courts have generally not found in favor of these arguments. Therefore, the likely outcome is that the appeal will fail.

Cooey is scheduled to meet his maker on 14 October 2008.


GJ said...

Let me get this right, his defensive is I'm to fat to die. What if in another life he needed live saving surgery, would he say "no I'm to fat" for an injection, and "you wouldn't be able to find a vein", "so don't operate as I might be subject to some pain". Bollocks!!!!!
As I'm a Class A cynic I think the is a lawyer trying to gain some publicity as well as extract addition cash from this loser.

Its only my opinion.

But you know I'm right!!!

rima fauzi said...

if only i have a schedule to meet my maker like him, i neednt worry so much. the fact that i dont know when forces me to wear my good undies everyday, just in case.

Rob Baiton said...


How can one argue with such certainty and conviction :D

It is a public defender so in that sense the State is paying for the defence!

The common sense arguments in this case are different from the legal ones and death row inmates strangely enough have a right to be executed in the most painless way.

I am no doctor so I do not fully understand the medical interactions of the drugs listed, but that said it is an interesting argument.

GJ a cynic, really?


Thanks! I need to go out and by some new undies just in case.

therry said...

he's not THAT fat :P

Rob Baiton said...


Nah, not fat enough not to be executed for his crimes.