With his execution set for March 10, inmate says he’s frightened to die
Condemned killer Johnnie Baston says he isn’t worried about being the first person in the U.S. to be executed using a new drug.
“New drug, old drug, it doesn’t matter,” said Baston, who is scheduled to be lethally injected March10. “The whole process should be eliminated.”
But Baston, 37, who was sentenced to death for the execution-style slaying of Toledo store owner Chong Mah during a robbery on March 21, 1994, acknowledges that he is “very scared” to die.
“The fact that I’ll be placed on a table and poisoned to death, I can’t find any comfort in that. It’s kind of a sick feeling.”
Baston would be the first person executed in the U.S. using only pentobarbital, a fast-acting barbiturate. Ohio and most other states have used sodium thiopental for lethal injections, but the U.S. manufacturer stopped making the drug.
In an interview yesterday on Death Row at the Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown, Baston said he was present during the robbery, but he denied killing Mah. He said the shooter – who used Baston’s gun – was a mysterious Chicagoan named “Ray” whom he had met at a party a few days before the robbery.
However, Baston has run out of legal appeals and appears resigned to being executed. He said he is more concerned about the impact his death will have on his two teenage children and making sure that Mah’s family knows how he feels.
“I would like to tell them how sorry I am. … It’s something I’ve been carrying with me for 17 years …
“I made a mistake, and it was a tragic mistake. It cost a man his life. I can never take that back. That day will stay with me the rest of my life. Most likely, as I take my last breath, I’ll be thinking about it.”
Baston, who went to prison when his daughter was a few months old and his son hadn’t been born, said his children will “have to live with this the rest of their lives. I won’t just be their father. I’ll be their father who was on Death Row and was executed.”
Mah’s family opposes the death penalty and has asked that Baston not be executed. However, the Ohio Parole Board voted 9-0 against granting clemency, concluding that Baston’s failure to accept responsibility for the crime, his criminal history and Mah’s shooting at point-blank range “outweigh their personal opinions regarding the death penalty.”
Gov. John Kasich has not decided on Baston’s clemency request.
In the meantime, Baston is writing letters to family, friends and supporters and weighing his last words.
“I’m not a monster. I made mistakes. I want people to understand that even if I was executed, I was a good person before, I was a good person on Death Row, and I will be a good person if I’m executed.”