Condemned Ohio killer of 2 asks parole board for mercy

Gary Otte (Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections)

COLUMBUS (AP) — Attorneys for a condemned Ohio killer who shot two people to death in back-to-back robberies over two days asked the state parole board on Thursday to spare his life.

A life sentence without parole is an appropriate alternative for death row inmate Gary Otte, who has matured and made efforts to better himself in prison, federal public defenders argued in court documents filed with the board.

Otte’s drug addiction, intoxication and depression led to the slayings, and Otte also had poor legal assistance at trial, they argued.

“Although these crimes are terrible, Gary is not,” Otte’s attorneys wrote in a Jan. 26 filing with the board. “He started out as a good boy. His goodness was derailed by bullying, social rejection, and developmental deficits.”

Otte, 45, was sentenced to die for the Feb. 12, 1992, killing of Robert Wasikowski and the Feb. 13, 1992, killing of Sharon Kostura. Both slayings took place in an apartment building in Parma, in suburban Cleveland.

The board planned an all-day hearing Thursday and will make its recommendation by March to Gov. John Kasich, who has the final say.

Otte’s execution is set for March 15, but it’s up in the air because of Ohio’s ongoing problems finding lethal injection drugs that pass constitutional muster.

Many Ohio offenders who killed multiple people are serving life without parole, Otte’s attorneys argue. Those include three ex-death row inmates who received clemency from Ohio governors, including Shawn Hawkins, convicted of a 1989 double killing in the Cincinnati area and spared by Kasich six years ago.

The Cuyahoga County prosecutor argues Otte still won’t take full responsibility and tries to blame others, including the victims.

The killings weren’t spur-of-the-moment decisions by Otte, who lingered in the victims’ apartments to rob them and even turned the TV up to block out Kostura’s pleas for help, Michael O’Malley, the county prosecutor, said in a Jan. 30 filing.

“Otte is relying upon a hybrid strategy intended to reduce his own culpability, blaming at various points his attorneys, his peers, his victims, his upbringing, and his drug addiction,” O’Malley said. “None of these excuses is persuasive.”

NBC4i.com provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s