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TEENAGE WITNESSES Family sees end of dad's killer

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TEENAGE WITNESSES Family sees end of dad's killer

Post by bluegill on January 8th 2010, 9:46 am

Second execution with single drug has no complications
Friday, January 8, 2010 3:09 AM
By James Nash

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

Vernon Smith was executed for a 1993 Toledo murder.

LUCASVILLE, Ohio— As prison staffers prepared Vernon Smith to receive a fatal dose of an anesthetic, his victim's widow whispered to her daughter, "OK, so this is the beginning of the end, right, Mona?"
Mona Darwish, who was still in the womb when Smith fatally shot her father at a Toledo convenience store in 1993, nodded. About 25 minutes later, the 16-year-old became the youngest person to witness an execution in Ohio, at least since the state resumed capital punishment in 1999.

Smith, 37, was pronounced dead at 10:28 a.m. yesterday, eight minutes after staff members at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility near Lucasville administered a 5-gram dose of the powerful anesthetic sodium thiopental.

He was the second person in the country to be put to death using a single drug. The state had used a series of three chemicals but abandoned that protocol after executioners were unable to find a suitable vein to inject a convicted killer in September.

There were no complications with Smith's execution. He mouthed verses from the Quran as medics prepared him for injection, and his lips continued moving until about a minute after the chemical entered his body. After that, his mouth opened wide and his head jerked back, and then he was largely motionless.

Smith died without addressing the family of Sohail Darwish, whom Smith killed while robbing Darwish's Toledo carryout in May 1993. Smith and two accomplices demanded that Darwish turn over the cash from his cash register and wallet. Even though Darwish complied, Smith shot him once in the chest. Darwish, 28, bled to death.

Darwish's widow, Charlotte, and daughters Mona, now 16, and Dolly, 17, remained mostly silent as prison officials located a vein in Smith's left arm, inserted a needle and then pumped the fatal chemical into his bloodstream.

Smith converted to Islam while in prison and changed his name to Abdullah Sharif Kaazim Mahdi. Asked whether he wished to make a final statement, the condemned inmate, wearing a traditional Muslim kufi cap, repeated an Islamic creed in Arabic four times. The statement translates roughly to, "There is no God but God, and Muhammad is his prophet."

Addressing reporters after Smith was pronounced dead, Charlotte Darwish said she was neither surprised nor especially disappointed that Smith did not apologize.

"He doesn't realize it, but I am grateful that he recited that line," she said of the Islamic creed. "He has found Allah or religion, whatever that may be, hence in time -- none of us know when that may be -- his soul may be saved."

Although Smith was married, his wife did not witness his execution. His only witness was Atef Hamed, an imam. Hamed remained silent during the execution and did not speak to reporters afterward. He planned to officiate at an Islamic burial for Smith later in the day.

Charlotte Darwish has remarried and is moving to Alabama, where her husband works.

She closed Sohail Darwish's store after the murder. Yesterday, she remembered her late husband -- a Palestinian who was raised in Saudi Arabia -- for his enthusiasm about all things American.

"He loved the United States and he embraced everything it had to offer -- from the people to the food, everything about the United States," she said. "Things we take for granted."

jnash@dispatch.com
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bluegill
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