LUCASVILLE: Richard Wade Cooey spent perhaps his last Monday on Earth, eating steak, visiting with his attorneys and reading the Bible.
At a hotel down the road, the family of one of his victims held out hope that this meal will indeed be Cooey's last after 22 years on Ohio's death row.
Prison officials, meanwhile, are bracing for demonstrators, but not the kind typical of executions.
Spokeswoman Andrea Carson said pro-execution demonstrators arriving by bus from Akron are expected to stand outside the prison walls during the execution.
Carson said the state prison office and the Ohio Parole Board have received many calls and e-mails regarding Cooey. Most, she said, favor his death.
''There's a lot of emotion surrounding this case from the Akron community, a lot of emotion,'' she said.
Cooey is scheduled to be executed at 10 a.m. today.
Five years ago, the family of Dawn McCreery gathered inside the same hotel, awaiting Cooey's execution. An 11th-hour stay bought the condemned man more time to fight his death and sent the McCreery family home frustrated.
Today might bring a different conclusion. His attorneys said Monday he appears to be out of options.
Cooey, 41, was sentenced to die for the 1986 kidnapping, robbery, rape and murder of McCreery and her University of Akron sorority sister, Wendy Offredo.
He arrived at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility about 9:45 a.m. Monday in preparation for his death. He was given a medical
and psychological evaluation.
Carson said an assessment of Cooey's arms revealed two viable veins sufficient for the lethal injections.
Part of Cooey's appeals have been based on his contention that his obesity would complicate the injection process due to poor vein access. He argued that Ohio could not execute him without causing undue pain.
''They were able to see two good veins [Monday],'' Carson said.
About 4 p.m., the 270-pound Cooey was served his last meal: a T-bone steak with A-1 sauce, onion rings, french fries, four eggs over easy, toast with butter, hash browns, rocky road ice cream and bear claw pastry. He drank Mountain Dew.
In 2003, Cooey was also served a last meal, which consisted of a rib-eye steak (medium), two eggs sunny side up, toast with butter, a cheeseburger with the works, onion rings, french fries, two slices of banana cream pie and a couple of 2-liter bottles of Dr Pepper. Later that evening, a federal judge granted his request for a stay of execution.
McCreery's family was jarred then by the delay.
The family held out hope for closure Monday night as the clock wound down. At the hotel, about a dozen relatives were gathered. They spent the evening reminiscing about Dawn and the past 22 years.
Robert McCreery Jr., the victim's brother, said he's been asked how he will feel, if the execution is carried out. He was 17 when his sister, 20, and Offredo, 21, were killed by Cooey and accomplice Clint Dickens.
''I can't answer that question until [it happens],'' he said. ''Hopefully, we'll all be relieved, but I just won't know until [today]. I've spent most of my adult life waiting for this thing to happen.''
In Lucasville, Cooey was visited by his attorney, Dana Cole, and Cole's brother, James, who serves as a spiritual adviser.
Amy Borrow, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Public Defender's Office, said Cooey's appeals to the Ohio and U.S. Supreme courts were both denied Monday. She did not anticipate any additional appeals filed before the execution.
''At this point, it looks like we are out of options,'' Borrow said.
Carson said that no one from Cooey's family is expected to visit the prison before the execution. Some family visited with him last week on death row at the Ohio State Penitentiary, she said.
Cooey will remain in the state death house through the execution process. He has a phone and can watch local television, but not cable. He is to be awakened by 6 a.m. today.
New prison warden Phillip Kerns is scheduled to read the death warrant about 9:50 a.m. Kerns will be overseeing his first execution. Ohio has executed 26 inmates since resuming the practice in 1999.
Just before 10 a.m., the state's execution team will attempt to insert shunts into Cooey's arms before he is moved to the execution chamber. Carson said there would be no ''artificial time restraints'' placed on the staff attempting to insert the shunts into Cooey's veins.
Family to observe
Six members of McCreery's family are expected to witness the execution along with several media members, prison officials and three of Cooey's attorneys. Offredo's family declined to attend.
Cooey has asked that his body be cremated, at taxpayer expense, and his ashes given to his attorney, Dana Cole. Cole was unable to say last week where the ashes would be spread.
Cooey was compliant and in a ''very good mood'' after his arrival in Lucasville, Carson said.
''He was very conversant with his spiritual adviser,'' she said. ''He didn't have a blue mood or a down mood. He's in a good mood.''
Phil Trexler can be reached at 330-996-3717 or firstname.lastname@example.org.