He did not issue a formal stay of all executions but said “Ohio is not going to execute someone under my watch when a federal judge has found it to be cruel and unusual punishment.”
He directed prison officials to come up with a new protocol, which will likely face legal challenge in federal court, he said.
“We certainly could have no executions during that period of time. I don’t want to predict dates, but we have to have the protocol, then it will be challenged, then we have a judge make a decision. So we have to through all that process before we could certainly move down the path toward an execution,” he said.
The next scheduled execution is May 29. DeWine spokesman Dan Tierney said the governor will decide whether to go ahead or delay that execution based on the facts at the time, including whether the federal judge’s ruling has been overturned.
When asked if he now has personal reservations about capital punishment, DeWine said, “It is the law of the state of Ohio. I’m going to let it go at that at this point. We are seeing, clearly, some challenges that you all have reported in regard to carrying out the death penalty. I’m not going to go down that path any more today.”
DeWine voted for the capital punishment law as a state senator nearly 40 years ago, long before DNA analysis of crime scene evidence led to exonerations from death rows across the country.
When asked if those exonerations have changed his view of the capital punishment, DeWine responded, “I think there is a lot of things we know today that we have the benefit of seeing how it has played out since 1981. We know more today.”
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