Ohio executed a two-time murderer Tuesday for beating and stomping to death a fellow jail inmate days after the two had argued over what to watch on television.
Clarence Carter, 49, died at 10:25 a.m. at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility. He was the second inmate in the nation killed using the surgical sedative pentobarbital as a stand-alone execution drug.
Carter, who was waiting to be sentenced for another aggravated murder when he attacked Johnny Allen Jr. in 1988, looked to see if any Allen family members were present to witness his execution. Seeing none, he went ahead with an apology.
"I'd like to say I'm sorry for what I did, especially to his mother. I ask God for forgiveness and them for forgiveness," he said.
He smiled and nodded at his brother, who was watching from a room separated from the execution chamber by a window, and appeared to pray as the lethal injection began. After several deep breaths, his eyes closed. He fell still about a minute into the procedure.
Allen's mother, Helen L. Bonner, did not attend but released a statement saying she has no animosity against Carter and has forgiven him.
"But my forgiveness of him will never ease the pain of the loss of my son," she wrote.
Allen died two weeks after the December 1988 beating in the Hamilton County jail in Cincinnati. Investigators said Carter punched, choked, kicked and stomped on Allen for a half-hour, intermittently stopping to mop blood from his sneakers. Witnesses said Carter had punched Allen in the eye earlier in the month when one of the men changed a TV channel.
Allen was being held on a theft charge. Carter was in the jail waiting to be sentenced for aggravated murder in the death of Michael Hadnot.
Carter told the Ohio Parole Board in February that Hadnot was a fellow drug trafficker he killed over the theft of drugs, money and incriminating documents from an operation in which both were involved.
Allen's sister, Crystal Miller, said she and her mother didn't attend the execution because Bonner "couldn't do it, it was just too much.
"She is still feeling so many emotions, and she didn't want me to have that scene in my mind for the rest of my life," she told The Associated Press by phone Tuesday afternoon.
Miller, who was 23 years old when her brother died, said the family believed Carter's sentence should be carried out. She said she was at her Cincinnati home while he was being put to death "soul searching and watching the clock and waiting for that call when it's going to be over."
Carter had been calm and in good spirits Monday, meeting with two imams, laughing during visits with his brother and lawyers and at one point saying, "doing good, happy and I'm a smiling," said prisons department spokesman Carlo LoParo.
Just ahead of the lethal injection, Carter knelt and put his head to the ground in prayer.
Witnessing the execution on his behalf were Carter's brother, Lamarck Carter, and an attorney. They clasped hands after the execution, and Carter smiled.
Only two media representatives witnessed the execution: a reporter from The Associated Press and one from The Columbus Dispatch representing the Ohio Legislative Correspondents Association. Larry Greene, a prison spokesman, said it was the fewest number of media to witness an execution since the state resumed executions in 1999.
Despite the low media attendance, each execution is a "significant event," Ohio prisons department Director Gary Mohr said.
LoParo said about five protesters gathered outside the prison, where there was a steady downpour of cold rain.
Carter's lawyers argued against the execution, claiming Allen's killing was not premeditated, that Allen was a former U.S. Army soldier who likely instigated the fight and that the inmates used as witnesses were unreliable. They said Carter is borderline mentally disabled and that his upbringing was marked by violent role models, including a stepfather who beat him when he stuttered and a cousin who paid him 50 cents to fight other children.
Gov. John Kasich denied clemency last week, based on a unanimous recommendation of the parole board.
Carter had been scheduled for execution in 2007, but was spared by a lawsuit pending at the time that challenged lethal injection.
That year, the parole board had voted 6-3 against clemency, with those dissenting saying they were troubled by what appeared to be contradictory or inaccurate testimony by inmate witnesses.
Carter was the third Ohio inmate executed this year, and the 44th since 1999.