A federal judge ordered a 2-1/2-month ban on executions in Ohio to give defense lawyers time to mount legal challenges over revisions to the state’s controversial lethal injection method.
At issue are changes Ohio made in April to its execution protocol that up the doses of both the sedative and the painkiller the state plans to use in its two-drug lethal injection cocktail. That drug combination has been used in a lower dose in just one execution in the US, with gruesome results.
US District Court Judge Gregory Frost’s order puts off all executions in Ohio until at least Aug. 15.
The state’s decision to update its execution protocol came after its last execution, on Jan. 16, took a record 26 minutes and set off what has since been a sustained national reflection on how capital punishment is practiced in the US. The inmate, Dennis McGuire, appeared to gasp and snort for at least 10 minutes before he died, witnesses said.
Mr. McGuire’s execution had used a never-before-tested duo of drugs – 10 milligrams of midazolam, a sedative, and 40 milligrams of hydromorphone, a painkiller – bought from a source that the state refused to name. Ohio, as well as several other states, had run out of the standard lethal injection drug, pentobarbital, on which it used to rely in executions, after the drug’s European supplier cut off the tap to states with capital punishment. Ohio then turned to a network of state-regulated pharmacies for an alternative.
SOURCE: Elizabeth Barber
The Christian Science Monitor