Dennis McGuire, 53, who admitting raping and killing a pregnant
woman, was executed in January with a sedative-painkiller
combination never before used in the United States, where lethal
injection is the preferred method of execution.
The execution witnessed by reporters and McGuire's adult children
took about 25 minutes to complete, amid reports that he gasped for
an unusually long 15 minutes while clenching his fists and that his
stomach had churned up and down visibly.
The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC) said on
Monday its use of a two-drug combination of the sedative midazolam
and the pain killer hydromorphone to execute McGuire had been within
constitutional bounds and that his movements had been consistent
with the drug effects and other factors.
The DRC said it would increase the midazolam from 10 mg to 50 mg and
the hydromorphone from 40 to 50 mg, saying there was "no reason not
to increase the dosage levels to reaffirm that the drugs will,
without doubt, cause profound general anesthetic and ventilatory
"The massive doses of drugs given to McGuire rendered him
unconscious before any of the irregular bodily movements were
observed. There is no evidence that McGuire experienced any pain,
distress, or anxiety," the DRC added in a statement.
McGuire's children have sued Ohio, alleging the state violated his
constitutional right for protection against cruel and unusual
Ohio and other states that have the death penalty have increasingly
been forced to seek alternate drugs and sources of drugs for
executions as pharmaceutical companies have raised objections to
their products being used in capital punishment.
[to top of second column]
Executions have gone forward in Missouri, Texas, and Oklahoma
despite appeals raising concerns over the drugs.
Ohio turned to the two drugs after a shortage of its primary
execution drug, the fast-acting barbiturate pentobarbital.
Ohio Governor John Kasich in February delayed the next scheduled
execution until November to give the state prison department time to
complete a review of McGuire's execution.
Gregory Lott, 52, had been scheduled to die on March 19 by a lethal
injection of the same combination used on McGuire.
(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle;
editing by Gareth Jones)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.