Wiles executed for brutally slaying teen 27 years ago
Marc Kovac Capital Bureau
Published: April 19, 2012 1:00PM
COLUMBUS -- Mark Wiles apologized to the family of the Rootstown teen he brutally knifed to death more than 25 years ago and spoke out against the death penalty in his final moments before succumbing to a lethal injection Wednesday.
"The state of Ohio should not be in the business of killing its citizens," he said, reading from statement while strapped to a table in the Death House of the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility. "May God bless us all that fall short."
But a cousin of the murder victim later countered Wiles' those words.
"With no disrespect to the Wiles family, it is my opinion that Mark Wiles gave up his citizenship of Ohio when he murdered my cousin," said John Craig, who watched the execution as the lone representative of the Mark Klima's family. "He became an inmate, more or less a condemned man."
Wiles was the 47th inmate put to death since the state restarted executions in 1999 and the first since mid-November, following a legal challenge over the constitutionality of Ohio's death penalty protocols.
A federal judge blocked two executions from taking place after determining that state prison officials had failed to property document and control who participated in administering lethal injections, among other issues.
In response, the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction instituted a new "incident command system," with added briefings with Director Gary Mohr and staff involved in the execution throughout the process.
Judge Gregory Frost subsequently allowed Wiles' execution but warned prison officials of the consequences of any additional failures to follow their written procedures.
Staff involved in the execution began meeting 30 days prior to the execution and participated in extensive briefings, including a 45-minute meeting prior Wednesday's execution.
Wiles was sentenced to death for the murder of Portage County teen-ager Mark Klima in 1985, after the straight-A student caught him burglarizing his family's home.
Wiles stabbed the teen repeatedly, stole money and fled the state. He later turned himself into police in Savannah, Ga. and confessed. He spent 26 of his 49 years in prison, awaiting the death sentence he received for the crime.
Public defenders sought clemency, citing Wiles' admission of guilt, his remorse over the killing and his good behavior while in prison. They offered the testimony of a neuropsychologist who said a head injury in the days before the crime could have affected Wiles' behavior, while a psychologist said his abuse of alcohol and drugs and anti-social behavior were evidence of a possible brain injury.
But prosecutors said Wiles didn't take responsibility for the crime at the time, initially denying involvement and then attempting to blame the teen for pulling a knife.
They provided evidence that Wiles was not drunk or high on the day of the crime. And they said a scan of Wiles' brain days before the murder showed no damage or abnormalities.
For his part, Wiles was uncooperative during the clemency process, telling parole board members that he didn't deserve to have his sentenced reduced to life in prison without the possibility of parole and walking out shortly after the interview began.
He later sent a recorded apology directly to Mark Klima's parents -- a move that was chastised by the parole board and the county prosecutor. The video was given to prosecutors by the parents, who refused to watch it.
"All these years, I've wanted to say to you that I've always been sorry for what I did to your son Mark," Wiles said in the video. "He was an innocent victim of my selfish needs. I truly am sorry for taking his life and causing you and so many others so much pain and loss."
Wiles arrived at the Death House at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville on Tuesday morning and spent the day talking on the phone, writing letters and listening to the radio.
He was compliant with staff but said at one point, "I'm not going to be a problem, but I am not going to be helpful with assisting the team in carrying this out," according to a log of his activities after arriving in Lucasville.
He visited with two sisters, a brother-in-law and one of his attorneys during the early evening, then returned to his cell for his special meal, eating three slices of pepperoni pizza, strawberries and vanilla wafers. He declined a bag of Cheetos, three other slices of pizza and a salad he had earlier requested.
Throughout the night, Wiles talked on the phone with a friend, his nephew and a sister, with some of those conversations becoming emotional. He did not sleep.
Wednesday morning, Wiles showered and visited with his sisters and attorneys at his cell front, and he said the rosary and took communion with his spiritual adviser, Fr. Lawrence Hummer.
Following those visits, Wiles became increasingly emotional and paced in his cell before his short walk to the death chamber.
He arrived at the latter in a white shirt and blue pants with a stripe down the side, wearing glasses and with his head and facial hair closely trimmed. He lay motionless on the table as he was strapped down and as staff inserted shunts into veins in his arms that would deliver the lethal injection drug.
Wiles looked directly at two of his attorneys, reporters, Craig and prison staff who witnessed the execution.
He asked for his glasses to be removed before he read his final statement, in which he thanked his family for their support and voiced remorse for his actions.
"Since this needs to be happening, truly I pray that my dying brings some solace and closure to the Klima family and their loved ones," he said.
It took about 15 minutes between the time he ended his statement and the pronouncement of his death. His family was to claim the body.
In a written statement afterward, public defenders Vicki Werneke and Alan Rossman said Wiles accepted the death sentence "with grace and dignity."
"That the parole board and the governor find Mr. Wiles undeserving [of clemency] leaves one to wonder what criteria, if any, might justify and act of mercy," they wrote. "We challenge the media to review the parole board's collective decisions and find any consistent criteria that might assure the people of Ohio or the inmates themselves that we, as a society, are executing only the worst of the worst."
They added, "Surely, the citizens of Ohio are entitled to at least that much accountability from their chief executive."
Mohr said Wiles' execution would stand up to legal scrutiny.
"I am absolutely confident in the entire staff, from Chillicothe that prepped Mr. Wiles to the staff here and to everyone involved... We are committed to compliance," he said, adding later, "Our overall objective is to conduct a humane dignified execution compliant with our policy and legal standards. And that is not just for Mr. Wiles it's for all of the parties that are involved with this, from victims, etc. We are committed to do this in a proper, humane dignified manner, and we will."
Ohio's next execution is scheduled for June 6, when Abdul Hamin Awkal is to be put to death. He was sentenced for the 1992 murder of his estranged wife and brother-in-law in Cuyahoga County, shooting them both at close range outside a courthouse during divorce proceedings.
There are 10 other executions scheduled through January 2014.