Ohio’s Grisly Execution History

The execution of Dennis McGuire the latest in a string of controversial lethal injections

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In September 2009, Romell Broom walked into the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility expecting to die by lethal injection. Two hours and 18 puncture wounds later, he walked back to his prison cell alive.

Broom is the only person to ever survive an execution in the U.S. But he’s just one of a number of condemned inmates to experience complications during a lethal injection in Ohio — a number that now includes Dennis McGuire, whose execution Thursday was prolonged and reportedly distressing.

In May 2006, the execution of Joseph Clark in the same Ohio facility took 90 minutes after prison medical staff couldn’t administer an IV. (Clark was a long-time intravenous drug user.) The following year, prison officials took two hours to get a needle into the arms of Christopher Newton, sticking him at least 10 times. The process took so long they gave him a bathroom break.

But Broom’s execution in 2009 went so badly they had to call the whole thing off. When Broom’s executioners failed to locate a vein to place the IV, Broom tried to help them. It still didn’t work. Two and a half hours later, prison officials called the governor, who halted the execution. Broom is still on death row, and his lawyers argue that a second execution attempt would be unconstitutional.

“Ohio is very sensitive about the fact that that is the only lethal injection execution in history that could not be completed,” says Deborah Denno, a Fordham University law professor who studies lethal injections.

(MORE: Ohio’s Lethal-Injection Experiment)

On Thursday, McGuire’s execution became the longest in the state since those controversial lethal injections, reportedly taking at least 25 minutes for the untested, two-drug combination to end McGuire’s life. Witnesses to the execution said McGuire gasped several times and made snorting and snoring sounds, raising the possibility that a host of complications may have occurred.

Dr. Jonathan Groner, a pediatric surgeon at The Ohio State University, says it’s possible that prison officials weren’t able to get the IVs in properly, possibly mitigating the effectiveness of the first drug—midazolam—meant to sedate McGuire.

“If the IVs aren’t actually in, the drugs are going into the soft tissues under the skin,” Groner says. “And that takes a long time to be effective.”

The second drug—hydromorphone—is a synthetic narcotic, and overdoses can often trigger vomiting, gagging and seizures.

(MORE: The Hidden Hand Squeezing Texas’s Supply of Execution Drugs)

“People who have died from narcotic overdoses, they die badly,” says Groner, who raised the possibility that McGuire’s final meal on Wednesday evening could have entered his lungs if he reacted badly to the hydromorphone.

McGuire’s lawyers released a statement on Thursday citing reports that there were problems obtaining IV access and that McGuire gasped for breath for approximately 15 minutes.

“At this point, it is entirely premature to consider this execution protocol to be anything other than a failed, agonizing experiment,” said Allen Bohnert, an assistant federal public defender for the Southern District of Ohio. Bohnert is calling on the governor to impose a moratorium on future executions.

15 comments
Joe-in-Ohio
Joe-in-Ohio

I find it difficult to sympathize at all with Broom, who kidnapped a 14 year-old girl walking down the street, raped her, and then murdered her and who also had other unrelated convictions for robberies, kidnappings, and the rape of another young teenage girl on his record. 

Contrary to arguments made by some defense attorneys and opponents of capital punishment, there is no constitutional requirement that the imposition of capital punishment be either anxiety-free or completely pain-free for the condemned inmates.  Lengthy prison terms certainly aren't anxiety-free or completely pain-free for inmates either.  Better training for death row prison medical staff, as well as better protocols for administering the sedatives and lethal drugs, should eliminate the problem of "botched" executions.  

exifm
exifm

@spayandneuteranimalabusers

Good points about stopping slugs causing further deaths.

Let's reduce the risk of wrongful execution by applying the same logic. Apply the death penalty to the judge and 50% of the jurors in any case where the executed person is later exhonerated.

That will reduce errors, and make executions more meaningful.

DanTanner
DanTanner

Why is so easy to put down a dog?

SanoYanno
SanoYanno

Lets not forget the agony the prisoner put on his victim. A savage rape and murder. 

www.AnonPlanet.tk

Zenobia
Zenobia

"Murdering a murderer is right because murder is wrong." Sorry but I'll never see the logic in that, however despicable, horrible and miserable this person and his crime were. Killing him off (torturing him to death, actually, because this is what happened) won't bring back that poor innocent girl and her baby. And what about his family, did they deserve to see their father tortured to death? What was their fault? 

As a human being I don't feel entitled to decide about another human being's life and if I do, well, how am I supposed to be better than the person I decide to kill?

PS: Western European countries don't have the death penalty and their murder rates are far lower than in the US, it doesn't even work as a deterrent. http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/statistics_explained/index.php/Crime_statistics FIGURE 2 (Source: EUROSTAT) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Use_of_capital_punishment_by_country#Europe

spayandneuteranimalabusers
spayandneuteranimalabusers

Boo Hoo Hoo.  How about the VICTIMS and the horrible deaths they endured at the hands of these pathetic excuses for human beings? Capital punishment does deter crime...these slugs will never commit another one.

michaelsgayle
michaelsgayle

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GeorgeSchwarz
GeorgeSchwarz

How ironic that Time erred in this story. In the 1940s, Willie Francis survived the first attempt to electrocute him in Louisiana's portable electric chair. Time wrote about it in the 1980s. Someone should have checked the magazine's morgue.

WilliamBramblett
WilliamBramblett

All of this could be avoided by hanging the miserable pieces of sh*t.

roberthmcmanus
roberthmcmanus

@WilliamBramblett All this could be avoided by abolishing the barbaric practice of executing people, even miserable pieces of sh*t that stand in judgement of others and think they know what the best strategy for dealing with certain felons is.

celayapeter
celayapeter

@Realworldnonfantasyland @Zenobia "End the MF'ers life that ended someone elses"  So should the people who administered the injections be put to death?

spayandneuteranimalabusers
spayandneuteranimalabusers

@roberthmcmanus @WilliamBramblett  

Don't think of it as execution.  I prefer to call it assisted suicide.  Since these "miserable pieces of sh*t" chose to commit a murder in a state that supports capital punishment, they have chosen execution.  Capital punishment does deter crime... these "miserable pieces of sh*t" won't ever commit another one.

Realworldnonfantasyland
Realworldnonfantasyland

The barbaric practice of executing people could be abolished if people quit killing other people. I don't want it as a deterent to not kill people, I want people who are garbage and ended others lives to not have life anymore themselves


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