Gary Otte was executed by the State of Ohio for a double murder. According to court documents Gary Otte would shoot and kill two people, Robert Wasikowski, 61, and Sharon Kostura, 45, at a Ohio housing complex. Gary Otte would be executed by lethal injection on September 13, 2017
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Otte, 45, of Terre Haute, Indiana died at 10:54 a.m. by lethal injection in the state’s “death house” at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville. There appeared to be no complications with the execution, which took about 15 minutes to complete.
Prison officials strapped the heavyset, balding and goateed Otte to a gurney, with his head in full view of the families of his victims. Otte’s stomach moved up and down for a few minutes as the execution team began its series of three injections.
He stopped moving at about 10:44 a.m.
He laid still for another eight minutes before a member of the execution team walked in and checked his heartbeat. The coroner then entered the chamber and Otte was pronounced dead two minutes later.
Otte was convicted in 1992 and sentenced to death for robbing and killing Robert Wasikowski, 61, and Sharon Kostura, 45, at a Parma apartment complex in February of that year.
The victims’ family members sat in the viewing area to watch as Otte took his final breaths. Otte’s witnesses were his attorneys, spiritual advisers and a nurse.
The reactions of the victims’ family members, which included Wasikowski’s daughter and brother and Kostura’s sister, brother-in-law and niece, were mostly muted. Wasikowski’s daughter shook through much of the execution and appeared concerned as she was first led to her seat that Otte could see her in his final moments.
As a last statement, Otte gave a thumbs up to his witnesses and said, “I’d like to profess my love for my family,” who visited him at the prison on Tuesday and Wednesday but did not witness his execution.
He then said “I’m sorry” to the victims’ families.
Otte then sang three verses of the gospel song “The Greatest Thing” and closed with a Bible verse: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing. Amen.”
Wasikowski and Kostura’s family members did not make a statement following the execution.
Otte spent Tuesday evening visiting with his loved ones and his attorneys, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said. He did not sleep and spent the night on the phone, talking with friends. His mood was described as emotional, but he was also in good spirits, Smith said.
He was served his last meal of burgers, fried food, ice cream and donuts on Tuesday evening, after visits by his parents and his attorneys. Around midnight, prison guards removed his cheese sticks, string cheese and ice cream, which were all part of his requested special meal, Smith said.
On Wednesday morning, he again visited with his parents and prayed, Smith said, giving them a hug through prison bars one last time. He met with his spiritual advisers, again with his attorneys and talked with a friend on the phone. He also sang.
Otte took a shower before his execution but did not eat the breakfast served to him.
Like many inmates before him, Otte and his supporters tried their hardest to halt his execution. He waged a series of legal challenges to Ohio’s methods of execution and death penalty statute. All were denied, with the latest ruling coming by the Ohio Supreme Court less than two hours before his death.
The Ohio Parole Board and Gov. John Kasich rejected Otte’s arguments that his life should be spared because he was repeatedly bullied as a child. That bullying led to drug and alcohol use and depression, which led him to commit his crimes, his lawyers argued.
The parole board said in February that Otte had a good upbringing with a loving family.
Meanwhile, opponents of the death penalty implored Gov. John Kasich and the state in the days and hours leading up to Otte’s execution to intervene and call it off.
An attorney for Otte later said his stomach movements and the appearance of tears by his eyes during the execution showed that Otte was in pain after being injected with a sedative. The attorney is part of a team challenging the state’s use of the sedative, called midazolam, saying it doesn’t render a patient sufficiently unconscious as to not feel severe pain.
Otte was the 55th person the state has executed since it restarted the death penalty in 1999.
Otte, in a letter to Splinter News, blamed the actions that led to his imprisonment and fate on a crack cocaine addiction.
“I took personal responsibility for my life and became accountable for my future actions,” Otte wrote in his letter. “I’ve become a new person through this life giving application. The fears I once operated from have vanished through my reliance on God for all my support.
“I am no longer defined by my past failures, but by God’s love.”
Otte is the second death row inmate the state has executed this year. Akron child killer Ronald Phillips died by lethal injection in July. Phillips’ execution came after the state stopped putting inmates to death for more than two-and-a-half years, after the execution team had problems as inmate Dennis McGuire died in January 2014.