His supporters argued that Clarence Carter was not the "worst of the worst."
But a lifetime of crime, including a previous murder, violent assaults, robberies and drug arrests, tipped the scale against the Hamilton County man. Carter, 49, died at 10:25 a.m. yesterday after receiving a lethal dose of pentobarbital at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility near Lucasville.
Immobilized on the lethal-injection table by straps on his wrists and four on his body, Carter spoke his last words into a microphone held over his head by Warden Donald R. Morgan.
"Let them know I'm sorry for what I did, especially his mother," he said of the family of his victim, Johnny Allen, 33. "I ask God for forgiveness and I ask them for forgiveness.
"God can change you," he said. "God can do positive things in your life."
The execution process then began with "Syringe #1" invisibly pumping the first half of a lethal dose of pentobarbital into Carter's veins in one minute, 35 seconds. A second syringe followed.
The condemned man, who had been praying quietly, closed his eyes at 10:14 a.m. and did not open them again. Soon, his breathing stopped.
His brother, Lamarck Carter, was a witness to his death.
Afterward, Helen L. Bonner, Allen's mother -- who was not a witness -- issued a statement in which she said, "I am glad that justice is finally served, but my forgiveness towards him will never ease the pain of the loss of my son, Johnny."
Carter was the third of what could be a record 10 Ohioans put to death this year. Seven other executions are scheduled through November.
He was sentenced to death for an incident on Dec. 28, 1988, when he choked, stomped, punched and kicked Allen during a 25-minute fight at the Hamilton County jail annex where both men were incarcerated. Allen lived for two weeks before he died. His mother said he was "so bruised, he was unrecognizable."
While Allen was there on a theft charge, Carter was awaiting sentencing on a murder conviction. A self-described "hit man" for Cincinnati drug traffickers, Carter had used a handgun to kill Michael Hadnot after chasing him down on a Cincinnati street.
Carter's lengthy record included beating a man with a baseball bat and a shovel, robbing a Cincinnati gas station, and stabbing a friend in the chest and forehead. He had four offenses as a juvenile, three of them assaults.
Despite Allen's brutal murder, Carter had strong support from several people who said his crime wasn't the "worst of the worst" for which the death penalty was intended. His backers included former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Herbert R. Brown and former state prisons director Terry Collins.
Carter, who converted to Islam while on Death Row, spent much of his last 24 hours praying and sleeping. He declined a last meal, but ate dates, tuna and bread. Two imams, Muslim spiritual leaders, were to prepare his body according to religious customs before burial in a state cemetery in Chillicothe.
By Alan Johnson - The Columbus Dispatch (MCT)
Copyright (c) 2011, The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
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