The 18th Execution of 2017
Gary Otte died on September 13, 2017 at 10:54 a.m. following the administration of three lethal drugs at the Southern Ohio Correctional Faciltiy in Lucasville. He was executed for killing two people in back-to-back robberies 25 years ago in a suburban Cleveland apartment building.
In his final statement, the 45-year-old Otte professed his love for his family, sang a Christian hymn and quoted the Bible. He said, “God is good all the time,” and added, “I’m sorry.” Then he sighed deeply and began singing, “The Greatest Thing,” with words such as “I want to know you, Lord” and “I want to serve you, Lord.” He stopped singing at 10:39.
Otte quoted the Bible with his last words: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they’re doing. Amen.” The words were derived from a Bible account of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion.
Otte gave a thumbs-up sign, and then his abdomen rose and fell several times between 10:41 and 10:42. Two members of the state execution team did a consciousness check at 10:42. Otte’s abdomen continued to rise and fall a couple of more minutes, then he appeared to go still.
Defense attorney Carol Wright said she believes the rising and falling of Otte’s chest and tears she saw on his face during the administration of the first drug, the sedative midazolam, indicated that he was suffering from a phenomenon known as air hunger. Those occurrences “indicated to me that he was feeling pain or sensations,” said Wright, who was initially blocked in her attempt to leave the room to alert a federal judge about her concerns.
Security protocol was followed and the execution was carried out without complication, prisons spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said.
“Once (Wright’s) identify and intention was verified, she was given permission to exit the room,” Smith said.
Otte had unsuccessfully argued that Ohio’s lethal-injection method put him at risk of serious pain because the midazolam might not render him deeply unconscious. The rising and falling of his chest was similar to reactions in past executions when a different drug was used.
Otte was sentenced to die for the Feb. 12, 1992, killing of Robert Wasikowski and the Feb. 13, 1992, killing of Sharon Kostura.
Witnesses on Wednesday included the daughter and brother of Wasikowski and the sister, brother-in-law and niece of Kostura.
Otte didn’t sleep after arriving at the prison at 9:46 a.m. Tuesday and spent his time on the phone with friends and family and visiting with his parents and other relatives.
His legal appeals ended about two hours before his scheduled execution, when the Ohio Supreme Court declined to weigh in on his contention that he shouldn’t be put to death because of his age at the time of the crime.
Otte was 20 when he killed Wasikowski and Kostura.
Authorities had said he asked to go inside Wasikowski’s apartment to use the phone and then shot the 61-year-old and stole about $400. The next day, authorities say, Otte forced his way into the apartment of the 45-year-old Kostura in the same building, shot her and stole $45 and her car keys.
Both the state Parole Board and Republican Gov. John Kasich denied Otte’s request for clemency.
To read more CLICK HERE