Ohio's capital punishment system faces new challenges following an unusually long execution in which the condemned man appeared to gasp several times, according to The Associated Press.
Family members of death row inmate Dennis McGuire plan a news conference to announce a lawsuit over McGuire's death, which they are calling unconstitutional.
The 53-year-old McGuire made loud snorting noises on January 16, 2014 during one of the longest executions since Ohio resumed capital punishment in 1999.
Nearly 25 minutes passed between the time the lethal drugs began flowing and McGuire was pronounced dead at 10:53 a.m.
McGuire's attorney Allen Bohnert called it "a failed, agonizing experiment."
McGuire was sentenced to die for raping and fatally stabbing a pregnant woman in 1989.
The New York Times reported that McGuire was given midazolam, a sedative, and hydromorphone, a powerful analgesic derived from morphine, just before 10:30 a.m., the first time that any state has used that combination. The drugs were selected by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction after the state’s supply of pentobarbital expired in 2009, said JoEllen Smith, the department’s spokeswoman. A federal court had approved their use, she said.
A reporter for The Columbus Dispatch, one of the witnesses at the execution, described Mr. McGuire as struggling, gasping loudly, snorting and making choking noises for nearly 10 minutes before falling silent and being declared dead a few minutes later.
“Whether there were choking sounds or it was just snorting, the execution didn’t go the way it was supposed to go,” said Deborah Denno, a professor at Fordham Law School and an expert in lethal injection cases. “Usually, lethal injection takes about four or five minutes, if done properly.”
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