Man executed for killing college student - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Man executed for killing college student

By CARRIE SPENCER, Associated Press Writer

LUCASVILLE, Ohio (AP) - Quiet and calm, a man who lured a
college student to her death with the promise of a job was executed by injection Wednesday.

Richard E. Fox, 47, made no final statement. He was pronounced dead at 10:13 a.m. at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility.

It was the state's sixth execution since Ohio resumed the death penalty in 1999.

Fox kidnapped, stabbed and strangled Leslie Keckler, 18, of
Bowling Green, on Sept. 26, 1989. Her body was found four days later in a ditch near the northwest Ohio city. Fox had confessed and was convicted in 1990 of aggravated murder and kidnapping.

Fox, a heavyset, balding man, entered the death chamber at 10 a.m. He replied "No, sir," when Warden James Haviland asked if he wanted to make a last statement.

Fox's eyes remained closed throughout, fluttering only briefly as the drugs began to take effect. He swallowed once and pursed his lips. His chest and stomach rose and fell quickly more than a dozen times, the force of the air
causing his lips to sputter and his chin to shudder. As his
breathing appeared to slow, Haviland watched Fox's chest closely for several minutes.

"Justice has been served," Chad Keckler, Leslie's brother,
said later, with 12 supporters holding hands standing behind him.
"Leslie and my mother can now be at peace."

Greg Meyers, chief of the Ohio Public Defender's death penalty section, said Fox never denied his guilt or that he should be punished by imprisonment. He talked about his remorse and the Bible on the morning of his death.

"He talked about how deeply, deeply sorry he was for murdering Leslie Keckler," Meyers said. "Richard truly had a tough time, as any human being would, with living with the fact he was a murderer."

Gov. Bob Taft last week refused to grant clemency, saying there was no doubt that Fox was guilty. Meyers said then that there were no more legal issues to appeal.

Andrea Dean, spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of
Rehabilitation and Correction, said Fox spent the hours leading up to the execution with family members and that he was upbeat.

Fox ate his special meal of a cheeseburger, fries and cola
Tuesday. He went to sleep about 1 a.m. and woke around 4:20 a.m., Dean said. He did not shower or eat his breakfast.

Meyers witnessed the execution in place of Jessica Fox, who
decided Tuesday night against being a witness after her father asked her not to watch, he said.

"Jessica felt for a while that she wanted to be with her father to the very end," Meyers said.

The two visited happily "for a good stretch of time" Tuesday and Wednesday morning.

"Together the decision was simply, let us leave in a way where the last picture memory in your mind is one of a warm and loving father, not a person strapped down like an animal to an injection-execution table," Meyers said.

The injection Fox received consisted of sodium pentothal, which induces unconsciousness; pancuronium bromide, a muscle relaxant that stops breathing; and potassium chloride, which stops the heart.

Anti-death penalty protesters gathered outside the prison at sunrise. They were joined by students from Roman Catholic high schools in Cleveland and Cincinnati. School officials said about 125 students made the trip.

"It should be God who decides when someone dies," said Tiera Carson-Nicholson, 16 and a sophomore at Trinity High School in suburban Cleveland.

Attention to the death penalty in Ohio seems to be waning,
protester Scott Taylor of Bath Township said. At a protest outside the Justice Center in Cleveland last week, he said, "People were coming out, saying, 'What, there's an execution next week?'"

Authorities said Fox found Keckler, a student at Owens Community College near Toledo, through an application she filled out at the restaurant where he worked.

They talked in the hotel lobby, then Keckler got into Fox's car so they could check out businesses where supplies could be sold.

In a rural area near Bowling Green, Fox started making advances.

Keckler fought him and tried to open the car door. But he pulled her back, pulled her coat over her head and stabbed her six times in the back.

He then drove to a secluded road where, he told police, he
strangled her with a rope "just to make sure she was dead."

Fox had lived in the northwest Ohio town of Tontogany.

Prosecutors said he had repeatedly used deception to lure women in the years before the murder. However, his attorneys said he used trickery to meet women, not to kill them. His attorneys argued that Fox was not the "worst of the worst" criminals for whom the death penalty is intended.

They also said he should have been re-sentenced because
guidelines used in his case later were declared flawed by the Ohio Supreme Court. The high court refused to delay the execution to hear the sentencing issue.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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