Death Row: Ohio Killer Wants New Sentence Under Injection Law

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A killer facing the first execution in Ohio in more than a year said he can't be put to death by injection because he was sentenced to die by electric chair.

Richard Cooey has requested a new sentencing hearing in Summit County under current execution law and a chance to present more evidence that he shouldn't be put to death.

The state outlawed the electric chair in 2001 and made lethal injection the sole means of execution in Ohio. The electric chair hasn't been used in the state since 1963.

"The journal entry in this matter has not been changed to reflect the change in the law as of 2001," the lawsuit says. "The only court that matters has yet to issue an order sentencing the defendant to death by lethal injection."

In the request filed Friday in Summit County Common Pleas Court, Cooey says he wasn't allowed to properly present evidence of a brutal childhood at his original sentencing in 1986.

Cooey suffered "brutal, violent abuse" at the hands of his alcoholic father, a story that Cooey's original attorneys failed to pull together at Cooey's sentencing hearing, attorney Eric Allen said Monday.

"It's just another thing that's been overlooked and not dealt with properly," Allen said.

One of Cooey's original lawyers previously told The Associated Press he believed he did everything he could at that hearing.

Cooey is scheduled to die Oct. 14 in the rapes and murders of two University of Akron students. Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh called the latest argument a delay tactic and says she'll fight it.

"The crimes he committed were so brutal that there is no mitigating evidence that can overcome that," Walsh said Monday.

Walsh said federal courts have repeatedly upheld Cooey's death sentence.

Two of the three Summit County judges on the panel that sentenced Cooey to die have died, and a third is on inactive status, according to the Ohio Supreme Court's attorney registration Web site.

Cooey's filing requests a hearing to determine which judges should replace any deceased judges.

Cooey has also sued in federal court arguing he has poor vein access, a problem made worse by his obesity. He also says a drug he takes for migraine headaches, Topomax, could interfere with the drugs used in the injection process.

The state says Cooey's arguments are a baseless rehash of arguments he made in a similar 2004 lawsuit.

Cooey has also sued in Franklin County Common Pleas Court arguing his execution would violate the state constitution because it does not provide a quick and painless death.

Cooey was convicted of the murders of Wendy Offredo and Dawn McCreery. He has acknowledged participating in the crime that led to their deaths but denies killing the women. A co-defendant who was 17 at the time and barred from receiving the death penalty is serving a life sentence.

Cooey, 5-foot, 7 inches tall and weighing 267 pounds, has denied trying to purposely gain weight in prison.