September 13, 2017
Gary W. Otte was executed by the state of Ohio on Wednesday, September 13, 2017. Gary was pronounced dead at 10:54 am EST, inside the execution chamber at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Mansfield, Ohio. Gary was 45 years of age. He was convicted of murdering 61-year-old Robert Wasilkowski on February 12, 1992, and 45-year-old Sharon Kostura on February 21, 1992, both in Parma, Ohio. Gary spent the last 24 years of his life on Ohio’s death row.
Gary allegedly had a troubled childhood. He was depressed and began using drugs at an early age. Gary had difficulty fitting in with other children, as noted by his grade school teachers. As an adult, he frequently drank alcohol and used cannabis and cocaine.
On February 11, 1992, Gary Otte stole a 1962 Chevrolet Impala and a .22 revolver from his grandfather in Terre Haute, Indiana. He also stole two credit cards from his aunt and uncle. The following day, Otte arrived in Parma, Ohio, where he attempted to use the credit cards, only to have them confiscated at the stores when they were identified as having been stolen.
Otte then went to visit his friend Mike Carroll, who lived with his fiancee Jerry Cline, in Parma. Jerry was not at the apartment, but Otte found him at a local bar. Otte asked if Jerry was “still robbing people.” Jerry told Otte about two people he planned to rob near his apartment: an old man that lived diagonally across from Mike and Jerry, and a woman who lived one building over.
Otte later returned to the apartment complex alone. Otte knocked on Mike’s door, however the couple was not home. Otte then knocked on their neighbor’s door, Mary Ann Campangna. When Mary answered, Otte told her that he was looking for Mike because his car had overheated and he needed oil. When Mary said she did not have any oil, Otte left.
While outside, Otte observed a man pulling into the parking lot and thought he matched the description of Robert Wasikowski, the man who lived diagonally across from Mike. Otte approached Robert, telling him the same story he told Mary. Robert, who had been drinking, agreed to drive Otte to the store and back. When they returned to the apartment complex, Otte asked to use Robert’s phone.
Mary observed Otte entering Robert’s apartment and continued watching the door. Several minutes later, she heard “a very loud crack, cracking sound.” After entering the apartment, Otte pretended to make a phone call and “tried to stall for time.” When Robert finally asked Otte to leave, Otte pulled out a gun. Robert offered Otte $10 from his pocket, but Otte pulled the trigger. The gun did not go off, prompting Robert to ask if the gun was loaded. Otte pointed the gun at Robert’s head and again pulled the trigger. This time the gun went off, and Robert collapsed to the floor, gasping and begging for help.
Otte turned up the volume on the television to cover the noise and went through the apartment, taking what money he could find. He then left through the back sliding door, returning to the bar at which he had met Jerry earlier. While at the bar, he paid off a debt, played pool, drank, and took drugs. He left the bar at 2:30 am, but continued partying until mid-morning, when he checked into a hotel and slept until evening.
Robert’s body was discover that day by police when he failed to show up for work. Police interviewed Mary, who gave a description, and Mike, who gave police Otte’s first name and the car he was driving. Mike later told police what bar Otte would be at that evening.
After waking up on February 13, 1992, Otte returned to the apartment complex to rob another resident, Sharon Kostura. He knocked on her door and forced his way in at gunpoint when she answered. Otte shot Sharon when she screamed for help. He stole money from her purse and took her car keys and checkbook, leaving through the back door.
Otte returned to the bar and left with Jerry and a third individual identified as Buster. The three did drugs together, before Jerry and Buster were dropped off near the bar. As Otte approached the bar, he was pulled over by police who were waiting for him. Police found the weapons and Sharon’s checkbook in the car. Otte denied knowing how any of the items got into his car. Police went to check on Sharon, and discovered that she was still alive. She died eight days later on February 21, due to the gunshot wound.
Otte confessed to the police regarding the murders of Robert and Sharon. He was convicted and sentenced to death.
Gary Otte had several previous execution dates that were stayed due ongoing legal challenges to Ohio execution protocol. Those issues delayed executions in Ohio for nearly three years. Gary’s execution is the second execution since the issues were resolved.
Please pray for peace and healing for the families of Robert Wasikowski and Sharon Kostura. Please pray for strength for the family of Gary.