“Homicidal Hitchhiker,” Ohio Inmate Denied Appeal, Is Executed

The hitchhiker who went on a three-week shooting spree in the 1980s, killing one man and injuring two others in the Cincinnati area, has been executed by the state of Ohio.

Despite a prison conversion to Roman Catholicism, and several appeals that went to the Ohio and United States Supreme Courts, Michael Beuke died by lethal injection at 10:53 a.m. on May 13, at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio.

Beuke, 48, had been convicted in 1983 of aggravated murder and sentenced to the death penalty for a the murder of Robert Craig, 27. He was also found guilty of attempted murder, after forcing two men on separate occasions to drive to rural areas, shooting them and leaving them for dead. Gregory Warhoff was paralyzed in the incident, and died four years ago. Bruce Graham, another survivor, had visited Beuke on death row and had publicly opposed his execution.

Beuke had appealed his sentence, once on grounds that his violent acts occurred as a result of brain damage, and then again on the grounds that his execution would be unconstitutionally cruel, since he had already spent 25 years on death row. Beuke also felt that a prescription medication he was taking might interfere with one of the drugs used in Ohio’s backup execution system. The state recently moved to a single-injection method of execution, which has spurred a number of appeals.

Both the United States Supreme Court and the Ohio Supreme Court, however, rejected Beuke’s appeals.

A spokesperson for the Lucasville prison said that Beuke, who had undergone a spiritual conversion in prison and become a Roman Catholic, recited the Rosary and said the Hail Mary repeatedly for 17 several minutes before the execution began. He extended his sorrow to the families of the three victims.

In one of his rejected requests for clemency, Beuke had accepted responsibility and admitted remorse for the crimes he had committed. He also prayed “that God will ease the pain I have caused my victims.”

Beuke had also explained his motives for his actions, saying that he needed $2,500 to pay a lawyer to defend him on a drug trafficking charge, and that he was stealing the car in order to rob a bank to get the money.

Beuke was the 38th inmate to have been put to death in the state of Ohio since 1999, when the death penalty was reinstated.

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