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2015 execution date set for killer who strangled gay man

A Cincinnati man who strangled and stabbed a man he met at a gay bar in 1985 will be executed in 2015 after an Ohio Supreme Court ruling that his execution can go ahead
Robert Van Hook

A man who murdered a gay man in Cincinnati in 1985 will die in 2015 after spending thirty years on death row.

Robert Van Hook met David Self in a Cincinnati gay bar and invited him back to his apartment where he strangled and then stabbed him to death before fleeing the state for Florida.

Van Hook later claimed to be temporarily insane at the time he killed Self but did not deny killing him.

When that failed he appealed the verdict, arguing that his lawyers had failed to adequately represent him.

The Ohio Supreme court found that that was not the case, but Van Hook then lodged another appeal – claiming that prosecutors had withheld psychological reports that might have demonstrated that he was suffering from ‘homophobic panic’ at the time of the attack.

The court has now ruled that Van Hook will be executed by lethal injection on March 12, 2015.

Complicating matters though, is that Ohio expects it will have run out of the drug it uses to execute condemned prisoners – pentobarbital – before then, and the state’s current supply of the drug set to expire in September.

The state has enough of the drug left for its next four executions – but there are ten more scheduled to occur after that including Van Hook’s.

In 2011 the Danish company that commercially manufactures the drug sold that right to Illinois based Akorn Inc.

But Akorn will not allow pentobarbital to be sold to prisons, so the state may have to hire a chemist to custom manufacture the drug for Ohio.

Republican State Senator Bill Seitz told the Aurora Advocate that, failing that, the state could resort to other methods of execution.

‘Is there some Supreme Court case that says we can't if we choose [to] go back to firing squad and hanging? Seitz said.

‘There's no shortage of rope.’

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