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The Boston Globe

Nation

Ohio executes man still claiming innocence

LUCASVILLE, Ohio — Ohio on Tuesday executed a condemned killer who calmly went to his death still claiming he was innocent of stabbing a woman 138 times, slitting her throat, and cutting off her hands.

‘‘I’m good, let’s roll,’’ Brett Hartman said in his final words.

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He then smiled in the direction of his sister and repeatedly gave her, a friend, and his attorney a ‘‘thumbs up’’ with his left hand.

‘‘This is not going to defeat me,’’ Hartman then said to warden Donald Morgan, who didn’t respond.

Hartman was the 49th inmate put to death since Ohio resumed executions in 1999.

Hartman acknowledged that he had sex with Winda Snipes early on the morning of Sept. 9, 1997 at her Akron apartment. He also said he went back to Snipes’s apartment later that day, found her mutilated body, and panicked, trying to clean up the mess before calling 911.

But Hartman said he didn’t kill her, a claim rejected by numerous courts over the years.

A former co-worker and friend of Snipes who witnessed the execution said afterward that the family was relieved the case was over and that the continuous rounds of appeals and media reports about the case were at an end. Jacqueline Brown of Doylestown in northeast Ohio also flatly dismissed Hartman’s innocence claim.

‘‘He’s very, very, very guilty,’’ she said afterward. ‘‘Now Winda can be at peace, and that’s what it’s all about.’’

Stebbins read a statement from Hartman’s family in which they professed his innocence and asked for additional testing of scene evidence.

‘‘We hope that the taking of Brett’s innocent life might serve as a wake-up call to the flaws in our legal system,’’ the statement said.

Hartman came within about a week of execution in 2009 before federal courts allowed him to pursue an innocence claim. When that claim failed, Hartman had a new date set last year, but that was postponed because of a federal lawsuit over Ohio’s execution policy.

The Ohio Parole Board had unanimously denied Hartman’s requests for clemency three times, citing the brutality of the Snipes’ slaying and the ‘‘overwhelming evidence’’ of Hartman’s guilt.

Hartman’s attorneys long said that crucial evidence from the crime scene and Snipes’s body had never been tested, raising questions about Hartman’s innocence.

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