AP Legal Affairs Writer
LUCASVILLE, Ohio — Attention is back on Ohio’s search for a new execution drug after the state put to death a security guard’s killer and the deadline for finding a new drug approaches rapidly.
Frederick Treesh received a dose of the powerful sedative pentobarbital and was pronounced dead Wednesday morning at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville.
Treesh was sentenced to die for killing Henry Dupree in Eastlake, east of Cleveland, on Aug. 27, 1994. He and a co-defendant were suspects in the shooting death three days earlier of Ghassan Danno, a Livonia, Mich., video store co-owner.
The state is next scheduled to execute a Richland County man in May for fatally beating and raping his girlfriend’s 6-month-old daughter.
The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction runs out of its pentobarbital supply in September, and the agency is seeking an alternative. One option floated by authorities is obtaining the drug from compounding pharmacies, which are licensed to create small batches of drugs for specific clients.
Regular pentobarbital is no longer available because its manufacturer has put it off limits to states for executions.
Prosecutors say Treesh, 48, and Benjamin Brooks robbed banks and businesses, committed sexual assaults, stole cars, committed carjackings and shot someone to death in a Michigan robbery during a series of crimes that also took them to Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
“This is where drugs lead you,” Treesh, a former cocaine addict, said in a last statement.
He also apologized for Dupree’s death but said he wouldn’t say he was sorry to Danno’s family members, who sat a few feet away watching through a window. Treesh said he’d never been charged or tried in that slaying.
After a few more comments, Treesh said, “If you want me murdered, just say it.”
Treesh, of Waterloo, Ind., was the 50th inmate put to death by Ohio since it resumed executions in 1999.
The prison system said Treesh’s veins checked out beforehand, but executioners seemed to have a little difficulty inserting the IVs. A trickle of blood ran down Treesh’s right arm after one attempt, while the insertion on the left arm took a couple of tries with the successful insertion on the inmate’s forearm.
Treesh spoke a few times during the insertion process, but his remarks were inaudible. He yawned shortly after the drug began flowing, then his mouth fell open, and he was still for several minutes.
Danno’s sister-in-law said afterward that justice had been served.
“There’s one less sadistic killer in this world,” said Deanne Danno, who witnessed the execution. “He has no heart. He’s a soulless person that should never have been brought into this world.”
Gov. John Kasich denied Treesh clemency last week, following the recommendation of the state parole board, which ruled unanimously last month that the evidence showed Dupree was seated when shot and hadn’t shown any sign of being a threat to Treesh. The board also said Treesh’s decision to shoot a clerk in the face as he left the store suggests his “murderous intent” on entering.
Treesh and Brooks “gratuitously brutalized, humiliated and killed innocent people, most of whom, like Dupree, posed no real or perceived threat to them,” the board said.
Prosecutors said justice could be served and money saved by charging Treesh and Brooks in Ohio. Brooks pleaded guilty to avoid the death penalty.
Treesh’s attorneys described him as a cocaine addict who was high during the robbery and is deeply sorry for what happened.
Prosecutors contend Treesh intentionally murdered Dupree and tried to kill others, including police officers in pursuit.