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Baston Johnnie - Ohio Death Row - Scheduled Execution
Scheduled Executions
Upcoming Executions
Start : Thursday 10 March 2011, 4:00
End : Thursday 10 March 2011, 4:00

Johnnie Baston - Ohio Death Row - Scheduled Execution for March 10, 2011


Victims: Chong Mah

The Crime: Baston is scheduled to die for the murder of Chong Mah, the owner of Continental Wigs N'Things, on March 21, 1994. The store owner was found dead inside the business which he owned with his wife. He was found with a gun shot wound to the back of the head, later determined to have been inflicted from a range of two to three inches.

Baston was arrested days after the murder and was found carrying the gun used in the murder along with stolen merchandise from inside the store. The then suspect initially confessed to robbing the store owner, but blamed the murder on an accomplice named "Ray".

Just 21-years-old at the time, Baston was found guilty on two counts of aggravated murder and one count of aggravated robbery with a gun specification in Feb. 2005, the same month a panel sentenced the killer to death.


LUCASVILLE, Ohio -- Ohio on Thursday put to death a Toledo store owner's killer with the country's first use of the surgical sedative pentobarbital as a stand-alone execution drug.

Johnnie Baston was pronounced dead at 10:30 a.m., about 13 minutes after the 5 gram dose of the drug began flowing into his arms. About a minute into the execution, Baston appeared to gasp, then grimace and wince, but then was quickly still.

In a 5-minute final statement, Baston said the governor should have respected the opposition of his victim's family to the death penalty and commuted his sentence to life without parole. Baston also said he made a bad decision and said he hoped both his family and that of his victim could move on. He asked his brothers, both of whom were witnesses, to watch out for his teenage children as they grow up.

"I want you to tell them stories about me," Johnnie Baston said. "I want them to know the good things about me."

Baston, who grew tearful at times, also said he had hoped he wouldn't cry. "It's OK. It's OK," said his brother, Ron Baston. "You can cry."

A few minutes later, as the drugs began to flow, Ron Baston stood up and slammed his fist against a wall dividing the viewing area, the noise loud enough to draw the attention of warden Donald Morgan on the other side of the viewing glass. "Easy, sir," a prisons guard said.

Such a physical outburst is unprecedented in Ohio's forty-plus executions. "We'll clear his name," Richard Baston said as he comforted his brother. "We'll get justice for him. I promise."

Baston's execution marked a change in Ohio's process, giving inmates speedier access to attorneys in case something goes wrong when needles are being inserted into them.

Ohio has had problems inserting needles in a handful of cases, including the botched 2009 execution of Romell Broom, who was sentenced to die for the rape and slaying of a teenage girl abducted in Cleveland as she walked home from a football game. The governor stopped the failed needle insertion procedure after two hours.

Broom complained that he was stuck with needles at least 18 times and suffered intense pain. He has sued, arguing a second attempt to put him to death would be unconstitutionally cruel.

Now, an attorney concerned about how an execution is going could use a death house phone to contact a fellow lawyer in a nearby building with access to a computer and cell phone to contact courts or other officials about the problem, said Carlo LoParo, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

There's a catch with the change: The state will still allow an inmate only three witnesses. For an inmate to be guaranteed fast access to a lawyer, he would have to give up one of his designated witnesses, usually a family member.

A federal judge has already ruled that an inmate's constitutional rights aren't violated by having to substitute a witness for an attorney.

The change is consistent with federal court rulings that have limited challenges to Ohio's injection process to problems that crop up during individual executions, said Greg Meyers, trial division chief counsel at the Ohio public defender's office.

He said a lawyer who chooses to witness an execution now has immediate access to a phone if he or she believes something is going wrong. He said judges will have the final say on problems, which will limit abuse of the system.

Although the prisoner will now be just a few feet from witnesses as the needles are inserted, a curtain will be drawn and the procedure will still be shown on closed-circuit TVs in the witness viewing area. Using the TVs is meant to protect the anonymity of the executioners and to reduce the pressure they might feel having an audience watching them work, LoParo said.

Even before the change, Ohio had one of the most transparent execution procedures in the country. Several states, such as Missouri, Texas and Virginia, show nothing of the insertion procedure and allow witnesses to watch only as the lethal chemicals begin to flow. In Georgia, officials allow one reporter to watch the needle insertion process through a window.

Baston, 37, was sentenced to die for killing Chong-Hoon Mah, a South Korean immigrant who was shot in the back of the head. The 53-year-old victim's relatives oppose the death penalty and the execution.

The victim was a journalist in South Korea before moving to Ohio and opening two retail stores in Toledo. He started life over as a manual laborer before opening his stores and rarely took a day off, his brother, Chonggi Mah, testified at the end of Baston's 1995 trial.

Baston has given differing accounts of the crime and has suggested he was present but didn't do the killing. But his attorneys say they don't dispute his conviction.

The Lucas County prosecutor's office acknowledges the victim's family's opposition to Baston's execution but points out the family testified strongly about its anguish and Baston's lack of remorse.

Republican Gov. John Kasich last week rejected Baston's plea for mercy. Baston asked for clemency based on the victim's family's opposition to capital punishment and his chaotic upbringing, with his lawyer saying he was abandoned as an infant and would wander the streets with his dog trying to find his mother when he was a boy.

Oklahoma uses also pentobarbital, a barbiturate, but in combination with other drugs that paralyze inmates and stop their hearts. Ohio switched to pentobarbital after the company that made the drug it previously used, sodium thiopental, announced production was being discontinued.

States around the country have dwindling supplies of sodium thiopental, and several have looked for supplies overseas.

Last Meal:

Baston declined a special meal.

Final Statement:

In a 5-minute final statement, Baston said: "I would like to say to my family I am very sorry. I know this is not what they wanted to have happen. I hope they wonít be too bothered by what is taking place today. It is not their doing. Just the way things go.

I hope my execution, that it will be the last, that people will open up. The victims in my case didnít want me to be executed. They wanted life without parole. That should have been respected. That should have been respected by our governor . . . I made a bad decision and I hope my family can move on and find some comfort and peace. I would like to say Iím sorry to my family. I made a bad decision.

I want you to reach out to my children. I love them so much. I want you to tell them stories about me. I want them to know the good things about me, even through my time in prison I wanted to better myself, encourage others. Remind them of that. My daughter, sheís quiet, a lot like me. Just like me. I want you to watch her. If she talks, listen.

I want to thank all the members of my church, my friends who petitioned, letters, faxed, Twittered, hopefully, to the governor, to show mercy. For a long time I didnít see a lot of value in myself. It wasnít until this moment till I had to go through this ordeal that I have seen so much love from so many people. Letters from people all over the world, and even Ohio.

I appreciate every last letter, I appreciate every last card, every last prayer, every last encouragement. I was hoping I didnít cry. "It's OK. It's OK," said his brother, Ron Baston. "You can cry."

Dear heavenly father, I have sinned, and I repent of my sins, I pray for forgiveness. As I close my eyes on the light of this world, I hope to open my eyes to the light in heaven.

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