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Ohio executes trucker who went on killing spree

Ohio Execution
John Fautenberry confessed to killing five people in four states in  late 1990 and early 1991.AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

A former truck driver who went on a multistate killing spree was executed Tuesday in Ohio for the murder of a Cincinnati-area man who gave him a ride in 1991.

ohn Fautenberry of Oregon was pronounced dead at 10:37 a.m. at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville.

Fautenberry, 45, was sentenced to death for the slaying of Joseph Daron Jr., who picked him up while he was hitchhiking on Feb. 17, 1991.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had denied Fautenberry's request to delay his execution Monday.

On Monday afternoon, Fautenberry was subdued as he watched television and listened to the radio, prisons spokeswoman Andrea Carson said. He ate eggs, toast and some of the fried potatoes he requested for his meal, she said.

"He hasn't really been engaged in a lot of conversation," Carson said. "But he has been compliant."

Fautenberry was offered several opportunities to phone his sister Monday evening but refused, Carson said. He fell asleep around 11:30 p.m. and slept until he was awakened by prison staff at 6 a.m. Tuesday.

No family members or friends planned to visit Fautenberry before his execution, Carson said. His only visitors were his attorney and a Catholic priest with whom he spent several hours.

Fautenberry waived his right to a trial by jury in Cincinnati and pleaded no contest on July 23, 1992, to two counts each of aggravated murder and grand theft and one count of aggravated robbery.

Fautenberry confessed to killing five people in four states — Alaska, Oregon, Ohio and New Jersey — during a five-month period in late 1990 and early 1991.

Brain damage?
Sipe had argued that the state should pay a neuropsychologist to examine Fautenberry, whose last mental exam was 13 years ago. Sipe contended that Fautenberry should not be executed because he has brain damage from a childhood accident and from an injury while serving in the U.S. Navy.

"We make the argument that with a stale psychological survey done in 1996, we thought we needed an updated report to give the clemency process," Sipe said before Monday's ruling. "The Supreme Court said a defendant facing the death penalty was entitled to an attorney; that generally is taken to mean that you should be entitled to one that can effectively defend you, and that includes access to experts where needed."

The Ohio Board of Parole had voted unanimously to recommend that Gov. Ted Strickland deny clemency, which the governor did last week.

"I need an expert to explain to the governor why John Fautenberry should not be executed, because he has an organic brain injury," Sipes said. "The governor's office indicated it would accept things even after the decision."

The Cincinnati-based appeals court refused Friday to overturn a U.S. district court's ruling denying a state-paid expert. Sipe immediately asked the district court to reconsider, and Judge James Graham in Columbus, Ohio, again rejected the argument on Saturday. The appeals court affirmed the district court's decision Monday.