Updated: Wednesday, July 18, 2018 11:00 am EDT
Robert J. Van Hook has been executed in Ohio. Read more about his case here.
Updated: Wednesday, July 18, 2018 8:41 am EDT
Ohio Governor John Kasich has rejected a request for clemency from Robert J. Van Hook. Robert has no appeals remaining.
Updated: Monday, July 16, 2018 11:28 am EDT
Robert J. Van Hook is scheduled to be executed at 10 am EDT, on Wednesday, July 18, 2018, at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Mansfield, Ohio. Fifty-eight-year-old Robert is convicted of the murder of 25-year-old David Self on February 18, 1985, in David’s Cincinnati apartment. Robert has spent the last 32 years on Ohio’s death row.
Robert’s parents were both heavy drinkers and Robert began drinking as a toddler. His father started taking him to bars at the age of 9. Robert began using drugs, provided by his father, at the age of 11, and continued using drugs and alcohol into adulthood. Robert’s father was violently abusive to his mother, and at least once towards him. Robert was kicked out of the military for his drug and alcohol abuse, to his great distress. Robert had also attempted suicide numerous times.
On February 18, 1985, Robert Van Hook went to a gay bar in an attempt to find someone whom he could rob. Van Hook approached David Self. The two men talked and drank fro several hours before leaving the bar and going to David’s apartment. Van Hook maneuvered David into a “vulnerable position,” and strangled David until he was unconscious. Using a kitchen knife, Van Hook killed and mutilated David and then fled the apartment, taking several of David’s valuables with him.
Van Hook fled to Florida, where he was arrested by police six weeks later. Van Hook confessed to the crime. He was convicted and sentenced to death in August 1985.
The Ohio Parole Board recommended, by a vote of 8-1, that Ohio Governor John Kasich deny clemency for Van Hook. Van Hook's lawyers argued before the board that clemency should be granted due to emotion and physical abuse suffered during Van Hook's childhood - alleging that these issues were not fully explored by his trial attorneys. They also claim that Van Hook is remorseful for his crimes. Prosecutors rejected this claim, noting that Van Hook stabbed a fellow inmate in prison last year. On Friday, June 29, 2018, Governor Kasich announced that he would follow the recommendation of parole board and not grant clemency. The Ohio Supreme Court has also announced, without comment, that they will not halt the execution.
This is not Van Hook’s first execution date. After the controversial January 2014 execution of Dennis McGuire, executions were halted in Ohio due to ongoing legal challenges to the execution protocol. Read more information here. As Ohio schedules its executions several years in advance, numerous execution dates were rescheduled, and sometimes multiples times for the same person. Executions resumed in Ohio on October 19, 2016, with the execution or Ronald Phillips.
Please pray for peace and healing for the family of David Self. Please pray for strength for the family of Robert. Please pray that if Robert is innocent, lacks the competency to be executed, or should not be executed for any other reason, that evidence will be presented prior to his execution. Please pray that Robert may come to find a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if he has not already found one.