Botched death penalty in Ohio, USA

This video from the USA says about itself:

16 Jan 2014

A condemned Ohio inmate appeared to gasp several times and took more than 15 minutes to die Thursday as he was executed with a combination of drugs never before tried in the U.S.

Death row inmate Dennis McGuire made several loud snorting or snoring sounds during one of the longest executions since Ohio resumed capital punishment in 1999.

In attempting to halt his execution with the new method, McGuire’s attorneys had argued last week he was at substantial risk of “agony and terror” while straining to catch his breath as he experienced a medical phenomenon known as air hunger.

By Nick Barrickman in the USA:

Ohio prisoner suffers horrific death in botched execution

17 January 2014

An execution carried out Thursday morning, using an experimental two-drug mixture, resulted in 53-year-old Ohio death row inmate Dennis McGuire writhing in agony for 25 minutes before being pronounced dead.

McGuire’s lawyers last week sought to halt the execution. They argued that the use of an untried lethal combination of drugs could lead to a medical condition known as “air hunger” and cause McGuire to suffer “agony and terror” while struggling to breathe. That is apparently what happened, as the prisoner made loud snorting noises before finally succumbing.

At a January 12 hearing on the new execution procedure, the state’s expert, Dr. Mark Dershwitz, said, “I truly don’t know how many minutes it will take the inmate to stop breathing.” He added, “There is no science to guide me on exactly how long this is going to take.”

In opposing the prisoner’s motion, Assistant Ohio Attorney General Thomas Madden argued that while the US Constitution bans cruel and unusual punishment, “you’re not entitled to a pain-free execution.”

US District Judge Gregory Frost ruled in favor of the state, allowing the execution to go forward as scheduled.

Allen Bohnert, McGuire’s public defender, called the convicted man’s execution a “failed, agonizing experiment,” and added, “The people of the state of Ohio should be appalled at what was done here today in their name.”

McGuire had been on death row for several decades after being found guilty in the 1989 rape and murder of 22-year-old Joy Stewart. The victim was pregnant at the time of the attack. He was recently denied a stay of execution by Republican Governor John Kasich. McGuire’s lawyers argued that the prisoner had been mentally, physically and sexually abused as a child and had impaired brain function.

Authorities suspect that the cause of the botched procedure was the state’s decision to use a two-drug serum consisting of midazolam, a sedative, and hydromorphone, a painkiller. The standard three-drug combination of potassium chloride, pancuronium bromide and pentobarbital had been discontinued by the state after drug manufacturers began refusing to provide substances used for executions.

Witnesses said that after the initial dosage was given, no visible motion from McGuire could be noted until, after ten minutes had passed, he began making “several loud snorting or snoring sounds.” He was pronounced dead at 10:53 a.m.

A local reporter said McGuire’s family, present at the procedure, was “crying and visibly upset.” Amber McGuire, the daughter, cried out, “Oh my god,” as her father writhed in his final moments.

Ohio has five more executions scheduled this year, with the next set for February 19.

Nearly all 32 US states that administer the death penalty rely on lethal drug combinations for executions. “In the old three-drug combination, each drug was being used for what it was designed for,” said Dr. Jonathan Groner, a lethal injections expert who teaches clinical surgery at Ohio State University, speaking to the Nation magazine. “Ohio is taking drugs that are normally used for things like a colonoscopy, and they’re giving massive overdoses to kill people. They’re using them for their toxic side effects,” he added.

There are 138 inmates on death row in Ohio. Despite a general decline in the number of people being put to death by authorities across the US, Ohio has increased its use of capital punishment. Its six executions in 2013 and six planned for this year are surpassed only by Texas and Florida.

The first four US executions this year are all employing never-before-tried compounds. Last week in Oklahoma, Michael Lee Wilson was quoted by newspapers as exclaiming, “I feel my whole body burning,” as he was administered the fatal mixture that ended his life.

Republican Senator Bruce Burns of Wyoming in a comment to the press this week said he would propose legislation to re-introduce firing squads as a means of execution.

Fueling these fascistic sentiments is an effort by states to find cheaper ways of administering lethal drugs to prisoners. Many states have turned to using federally unregulated compounding pharmacies to mix their concoctions. Ohio had reportedly purchased its drugs from one such vendor.

The proper response to the atrocity committed Thursday in Ohio is to criminally prosecute and convict all of the state officials responsible for McGuire’s execution, and to impeach and prosecute the federal judge who denied the prisoner’s motion for a stay of execution.

The family of a death row inmate is planning a lawsuit against the state of Ohio following his botched execution. Dennis McGuire was put to death using an untested combination of medical drugs that appeared to cause him prolonged distress, in violation of the US Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment: here.

Dennis McGuire, 53, was put to death on Thursday, January 16, in the execution chamber at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio. News of McGuire’s execution—and details of the gruesome manner in which authorities carried out his death sentence—have evoked disgust and revulsion in the US and internationally: here.

“Oklahoma prison officials halted an inmate’s execution on Tuesday after a new drug combination left the man writhing and clenching his teeth on the gurney, before he later died of a heart attack. Clayton Lockett, 38, was declared unconscious 10 minutes after the first of the state’s new three-drug lethal injection combination was administered. Three minutes later, though, he began breathing heavily, writhing, clenching his teeth and straining to lift his head off the pillow.” A local reporter on the scene tweeted about the horrorific proceedings. CNN has some facts about the state of the death penalty, which is gradually declining in the U.S. The debate over capital punishment has been reignited. And Vox documents how botched executions have been around for a long, long time. [AP]

Oklahoma death row prisoner Charles Warner’s execution was postponed at the last minute yesterday evening after fellow prisoner Clayton Lockett’s execution was botched: here.

Oklahoma execution: Clayton Lockett was tasered by guards before lethal injection: here.

An injection of chemicals used to execute death row inmates can cause such excruciating pain that veterinarians are banned from using them to put down animals, according to one of the most thorough reviews ever undertaken of the administration of the death penalty: here.

US state of Oklahoma botches execution carried out using untested cocktail of drugs: here.

Cruel and Usual: The History of Lethal Injection: here.

In the face of numerous manufacturers’ refusal to produce drugs used in executions, many US states, in efforts to continue the grisly ordeal of capital punishment, have begun relying on chemicals formulated in unregulated compounding facilities: here.

Texas executes Mexican national in defiance of international law: here.

“More than 4 percent of inmates sentenced to death in the United States are probably innocent, according to a study published Monday that sent shock waves across the anti-death penalty community. What the researchers call a ‘conservative estimate’ about the number of wrongfully convicted death row inmates is more than double the percentage of capital defendants who were exonerated during more than three decades that were studied.” Here’s a short graphic on the history of the death penalty in the United States, as well as a graphic breakdown of the death penalty around the world. The Economist also maps out the death penalty broken down by state. [HuffPost].

“Nearly every criminal case reviewed by the FBI and the Justice Department as part of a massive investigation started in 2012 of problems at the FBI lab has included flawed forensic testimony from the agency, government officials said. The findings troubled the bureau, and it stopped the review of convictions last August. Case reviews resumed this month at the order of the Justice Department, the officials said…The inquiry includes 2,600 convictions and 45 death-row cases from the 1980s and 1990s in which the FBI’s hair and fiber unit reported a match to a crime-scene sample before DNA testing of hair became common. The FBI had reviewed about 160 cases before it stopped, officials said.” [Washington Post]

A major inquiry conducted by the US Justice Department (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation has found hundreds instances in which FBI forensic units charged with gathering data on cases involving violent crimes provided false information. The doctored FBI lab reports led to the imprisonment of thousands of innocent people, some of whom were executed, according to a report Wednesday in the Washington Post: here.

JUDGE HALTS ARKANSAS EXECUTIONS A federal judge temporarily blocked the executions of the eight men, and then came under fire for protesting about it in front of the governor’s house. [Reuters]

New details have emerged about the attempted execution of Alabama death row inmate Doyle Hamm last week. Hamm, 61, who has spent more than half of his life on death row, was subjected to about two-and-a-half hours of torture Thursday night in the Holman prison death chamber before prison officials called off the execution. Hamm was convicted and sentenced to death in 1987 for the robbery-murder of Patrick Cunningham, a motel clerk in Cullman County. “It was a gory, botched execution,” said Bernard Harcourt, Hamm’s longtime attorney, and a professor at Columbia University law school. “They gave up when they could not find a vein”: here.

Alabama and Georgia carry out executions, Oklahoma to begin using nitrogen gas: here.

37 thoughts on “Botched death penalty in Ohio, USA

  1. “Dennis McGuire writhing in agony for 25 minutes before being pronounced dead.” does this not sound like “torturing” and does not prove this that those in charge lowered themselves to the same level as any other torturer and killer?

    No human being may ever lower himself to the same atrocious deeds an other human might have done. There we should see the difference between a good human being and a so called ‘bad’ human being and also between a ‘believer in God’, a ‘believer in life’, a ‘lover of life’, a lover of his fellow man’ and a ‘non believer in righteousness’ and a ‘hater of life’ or a ‘hater of fellow man’.

    Any decent person, and even more important, ‘every believer in God’ should reject the allowance of one human being taking the life of an other human being. Only The Creator Jehovah God has this right to give man ‘life’ or ‘death’ … it only belongs to Him.


  2. I’ve been torn about the death penalty for a while. Can’t decide on certain cases. I do not condone this event. As a retired physician I know what the drugs should be definitely not this combo. Pity on the others waiting.
    Agree ….. torturing and experimenting.
    Where are we headed as a country?


  3. Although many would argue the death of these prisoners is a cruel act, and is inflicting suffering, the crime these prisoners committed, most likely had indifference to whether the crime inflicted upon a innocent, had little or no concern for pain or suffering for those who became a victim.


    • Some people get the death penalty … and then, after their execution, it becomes clear they were innocent.

      Let us suppose someone committed a horrible crime beyond doubt … then, does that mean that governments should go down to the culprit’s level?


      • I agree petri, on the reluctance of the death penalty, as and when some doubt exists, a point of view as to what a death penalty is? the vast amount of human sacrifice of humans on dubious quests as war, not much difference as to the death penalty, many die in macabre circumstances as suffering go’s, that would be equal to the pain of lethal injections.
        It is unfortunate that many murders or deaths as such could be avoided by those who have a voice, unfortunately, this is not the case. I mean language that can be used to change this fate.


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  7. US: The United Nations human rights office said today that US death-row inmate Clayton Lockett’s suffering during his botched execution this week may amount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment under international human rights law.

    A spokesman said Mr Lockett’s horrifically prolonged death on Tuesday was “the second case of apparent extreme suffering caused by malfunctioning lethal injections” reported in the United States this year.

    He said it “reinforces the argument that authorities across the US should impose an immediate moratorium on the death penalty and work for abolition of this cruel and inhuman practice.”


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