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Ohio governor says he won’t spare condemned killer of 2

This undated photo provided by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections shows Gary Otte. Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Friday, Sept. 1, 2017, said he won't spare a condemned killer who shot two people to death in back-to-back robberies over two days. 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. (Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections via AP)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Gov. John Kasich on Friday said he won’t spare condemned killer Gary Otte, who shot two people to death in back-to-back robberies over two days, meaning the death row inmate is scheduled to die Sept. 13.

Kasich, a Republican, also rescheduled 19 executions after reviewing the timeline for putting the inmates to death, to ensure all executions are carried out “in a humane and professional manner.”

The date changes aren’t reprieves but instead delay executions by a few months or in some cases more than a year. The execution date that is now farthest in the future is for John Drummond, set to die April 21, 2022.

Drummond was sentenced to death for killing a 3-month-old boy in Youngstown in 2003 in a gang-related shooting. Drummond’s previous execution date was Sept. 17, 2020.

In 2009, the Ohio Supreme Court said it would begin scheduling all executions at least three weeks apart.

Kasich’s announcement means most executions would be about six weeks apart, although in practice it’s rare to see people put to death that regularly in Ohio because of appeals and other delays.

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.

Kasich didn’t explain his decision denying mercy to Otte. He followed the recommendation of the Ohio Parole Board, which unanimously rejected Otte’s request in February, citing the heinous nature of the killings.

“Otte senselessly shot two vulnerable victims in their own apartments, stole from them, and callously left them alone to suffer and die on their floors,” the board said.

Otte’s attorneys argued a life sentence without parole was an appropriate alternative, saying Otte has matured and made efforts to better himself in prison.

Otte’s drug addiction, intoxication and depression led to the slayings, and Otte also had poor legal assistance at trial, his public defenders said in documents filed with the parole board.

A message was left with Otte’s attorneys Friday seeking comment on the governor’s decision.

In related court appeals, Otte’s attorneys are trying to delay the execution, saying Ohio hasn’t proved the first drug in its three-drug lethal-injection system could render inmates so deeply unconsciousness that they wouldn’t suffer pain from the other two drugs.

The Cuyahoga County prosecutor said 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, county prosecutor Michael O’Malley said in a Jan. 30 filing with the parole board.

Ohio resumed capital punishment after more than three and a half years in July, when it executed a convicted child killer from Akron.

The three executions pushed back by the governor that will fall within his remaining time in office:

— Raymond Tibbetts, sentenced to die for stabbing Fred Hicks to death at Hicks’ Cincinnati home in 1997, changed from Oct. 18 to Feb. 13, 2018.

— William Montgomery, convicted of fatally shooting Debra Ogle and her roommate Cynthia Tincher in Toledo in 1986, changed from Jan. 3, 2018, to April 11, 2018.

— Robert Van Hook, sentenced to die for fatally strangling and stabbing David Self, whom he met in a bar in Cincinnati in 1985, changed from Feb. 13, 2018, to July 18, 2018.

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Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/awhcolumbus. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/andrew-welsh-huggins

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