Donald Palmer was executed by the State of Ohio for the murders of two strangers. According to court documents Donald Palmer would shoot and kill Charles Sponhaltz and Steven Vargo following a minor traffic accident. Donald Palmer would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death. Donald Palmer would be executed by lethal injection on September 20 2012
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An Ohio death-row inmate used his last words today to repeatedly apologize to the family members of his two victims, telling them that he hopes they can let their pain die with him.
Donald Palmer, 47, was executed at the state prison in Lucasville in southern Ohio about 23 years after he shot and killed two men he didn’t know along a rural Ohio road in 1989.
“I want you to know I’ve carried you in my heart for years and years,” Palmer told six women in the room who are the widows, daughters and a niece of the men he killed. “I’m so sorry for what I took from you …I hope your pain and hurt die with me today.”
Palmer also told the women that he knows the pain of losing a parent, a sibling and a child, and that he wished his execution could bring their loved ones back to them.
“I know it can’t,” he said. “I pray that you have good lives now. I’m sorry.”
His time of death was 10:35 a.m.
Palmer was convicted of fatally shooting Charles Sponhaltz and Steven Vargo in the head along a Belmont County road in eastern Ohio on May 8, 1989.
Palmer didn’t know the men, who were both married fathers.
Palmer’s Columbus attorney, David Stebbins, said Wednesday that Palmer was sorry for the murders and never got the chance to apologize to the men’s families.
“He has always accepted responsibility for this and wants the families of his victims to have justice,” said Stebbins, who had planned to be among the witnesses to the execution
Palmer had decided not to request mercy from the Ohio Parole Board, which can recommend clemency for a condemned inmate to the governor.
Belmont County prosecutor Christopher Berhalter told the board the execution should proceed because Palmer’s guilt is undisputed and because of the brutality of the crimes.
According to court records, Palmer told police that he and co-defendant Edward Hill were driving from Columbus to the Belmont County home of a man who had dated Palmer’s ex-wife and Hill’s sister.
As they were driving back and forth in front of the home, Sponhaltz — who was keeping an eye on the house — lightly hit the back of their pickup with his own truck and yelled at them: “What in the hell are you trying to prove?” according to the records.
Donald Palmer then shot Sponhaltz twice in the head.
Vargo, a passing driver, stopped and asked “What the hell did you guys do,” Palmer told police, according to the records. Palmer then shot Vargo twice in the head.
Sponhaltz’s body was dumped in a field; Vargo’s was left on the road.
Hill, 46, was convicted for his role in the crimes and sentenced to 35 years to life in prison.
Valerie Vargo Jolliffee, 51, Vargo’s widow, told The Associated Press that she was planning to attend Palmer’s execution because he ruined her life.
She said that she and Vargo fell in love at first sight and had been married just two months when he was killed.
“I was looking forward to growing old with him,” she said. “I just can’t wait until it’s over. And it won’t be over until they put him to death.”
Sponholtz’s widow, two daughters and his brother also were expected to watch the execution.
Corrections officials say that Palmer asked that his last meal include a chipped ham and Velveeta cheese sandwich, ranch-flavored Doritos, peanut M&Ms, hazelnut ice cream, cheese cake and soda.
Ten Ohio inmates, including Palmer, are scheduled for execution through March 2014. Palmer will be the second this year if the execution goes forward.