“As Gary Gilmore said, ‘Let's do it,'” Barton said to the execution team before the lethal combination of drugs was injected into his system. Minutes later, Barton became the 22nd man executed by Ohio at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville since the death penalty was reinstituted in 1999. He was pronounced dead at 10:27 a.m.
Barton's execution was the first using the new guidelines adopted after an execution in which prison staff had such extensive problems delivering the fatal drugs that the inmate asked them to find another way to kill him. Joseph Clark's execution in May was held up 90 minutes when staff struggled to find a usable vein and one they used collapsed. The state now requires staff to make every effort to find two injection sites and use a low-pressure saline drip to make sure the veins stay open once entryways are inserted.
Barton said he deserved execution and gave up appeals that could have delayed his sentence for years.
In his final statement, Barton told his son and two stepdaughters he was sorry, and he told his mother and father that he was sorry for the embarrassment and shame he brought on the family.
“I love ya'll and I'm sorry for what I've done. I'm sorry for killing your mama,” Barton told Julie, Tiffany and Jamie Reising in SOCF's death chamber. “I'm not asking you to forgive me. Not a day goes by that I'm not trying to forgive myself.”
Barton, 49, and his wife, 44-year-old Kimbirli Jo, had a stormy 1 1/2-year marriage, and Barton killed her in 2003 after she told him she was leaving him.
She was moving out of their home in Waynesville, about 35 miles northeast of Cincinnati. When she showed up to pick up her things, Rocky Barton was waiting in the garage with a shotgun. He shot her twice, once in the shoulder and once in the back. He then put the shotgun to his head and pulled the trigger. He required extensive surgery to repair the damage including dental reconstruction, pins to hold his eyes in his head and a cadaver chin implant.
After Barton's execution, Tiffany and Jamie Reising spoke to the media and said they mourn Barton's death but they were there because of his actions.
“We can't forget the real reason we are here today,” said Tiffany Reising. “Justice is served.”
Jamie Reising said the execution offered some closure, but not full closure.
“We miss our mom very, very much,” she said tearfully. “This doesn't bring her back, but it helps with the closure for our family.”
Jamie Reising witnessed Barton shooting her mother just days after Christmas 2002.
“He took the glue that was holding us together,” she said.
Tiffany Reising said the question for her was not whether Barton loved the stepdaughters.
“He did love us,” she said. “The question is whether he loved our mother. We fully expected everything he said today.”
Barton's father, Donald, said in a statement that he was neither an opponent or proponent of the death penalty but called his son's execution an “assisted suicide.”
“I find it hard to come to terms with the callous and cruel manner in which he was depicted since a jury found him guilty,” Donald Barton said. “Rocky presented no defense and asked a jury to find him guilty and put him to death.”
A Warren County judge ruled last week that Barton was competent to give up his appeals, and Barton did not seek clemency from Gov. Bob Taft.
The Associated Press contributed to this story. MARK SHAFFER can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 235.