Lengthy ex­e­cu­tion fo­cus

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

DAY­TON, Ohio: The lengthy death of a con­demned killer who snorted and gasped in Ohio’s death cham­ber was un­like any­thing the leader of the state’s ex­e­cu­tion team had seen be­fore, the ex­e­cu­tioner said in federal court.

The man tes­ti­fy­ing anony­mously as Team Mem­ber No 10 said he “was won­der­ing what was go­ing on” dur­ing the 2014 ex­e­cu­tion of Den­nis McGuire, the Day­ton Daily News re­ported this week.

The man also said dur­ing his Tues­day tes­ti­mony that he spoke to a doc­tor to try to un­der­stand why McGuire’s body moved the way it did when none of the state’s other ex­e­cu­tions fol­lowed this pat­tern.

A trial that be­gan on Tues­day be­fore Mag­is­trate Judge Michael Merz in Day­ton fo­cuses on Ohio’s up­dated ex­e­cu­tion sys­tem and a new three-drug method sim­i­lar to one used sev­eral years ago.

Ex­e­cu­tions have been on hold in Ohio since Jan­uary 2014, when McGuire gasped and snorted dur­ing the 26 min­utes it took him to die, the long­est ex­e­cu­tion since the state re­sumed putting in­mates to death in 1999. McGuire was ex­e­cuted for the 1989 rape and stab­bing death of 22-year-old Joy Ste­wart, a re­cently mar­ried preg­nant woman in western Ohio. The state plans to ex­e­cute Ron­ald Phillips on Fe­bru­ary 15 for the rape and death of his girl­friend’s 3-year-old daugh­ter in Akron in 1993.

If ex­e­cu­tion team mem­bers de­ter­mine that Phillips is un­con­scious af­ter the first drug – a seda­tive – is ad­min­is­tered, the team will go ahead with the sec­ond and third drugs even if Phillips moves in the same way McGuire did, the ex­e­cu­tion team leader tes­ti­fied.

A sec­ond ex­e­cu­tion team mem­ber, iden­ti­fied as Team Mem­ber No 21, tes­ti­fied Wed­nes­day that he didn’t be­lieve McGuire suf­fered.

The team mem­ber said his check for con­scious­ness with Phillips will in­clude speak­ing to him, touch­ing the in­mate’s eye, pinch­ing his ear­lobe and squeez­ing a fin­ger­nail to check for “pur­pose­ful ac­tion”.

“I don’t want him to feel any­thing,” the team mem­ber tes­ti­fied.

Lawyers for death row in­mates say the three-drug method, an­nounced last year, is worse than a sim­i­lar pro­ce­dure used years ago.

They say mul­ti­ple prob­lems re­main with the way the state pre­pares and car­ries out ex­e­cu­tions. In a court fil­ing, the at­tor­neys say the first drug in the process – mi­da­zo­lam – is un­likely to re­lieve an in­mate’s pain. – Reuters

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