LUCASVILLE, Ohio -- A man who bludgeoned his girlfriend to death, threw her body in a river and stole her ATM card to buy crack cocaine was executed Wednesday morning.
When he died shortly after 10:30 a.m., Michael Benge's lethal injection broke the state's record of the most people executed in a year since Ohio resumed capital punishment in 1999.
The Ohio Parole Board had recommended against mercy for Benge, 49, of Hamilton, in the 1993 murder of Judith Gabbard, and Gov. Ted Strickland refused to grant clemency on Tuesday.
Benge was upbeat and spent much of Tuesday on the phone. He visited with his daughter and son, mother, sisters and other relatives, prisons spokeswoman Julie Walburn said. His special meal request included a large chef salad, barbecue baby back ribs, two cans of salted cashews and two bottles of iced tea.
Benge joked and laughed a bit with family members on Wednesday morning before being prepared for his execution. He turned his Bible over to his son.
In his final statement, Benge said he could never apologize enough to Gabbard's family. Members of her family were witnesses to the execution.
Final statement of Michael Benge:
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