News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Wayside Furniture

NOCHE

Don Drumm Studios


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Ohio


Ohio execution with new drug combo is a struggle
Death took as long as 15 minutes
by WKSU's STATEHOUSE BUREAU CHIEF KAREN KASLER


Reporter
Karen Kasler
 
Dennis Mcguire's execution took 15 minutes and involved him apparently gasping for breath.
Courtesy of State of Ohio
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

A condemned Ohio killer appeared to gasp several times during his prolonged execution, done with a lethal injection process never before tried in the U.S.

Columbus Dispatch reporter Alan Johnson, who's witnessed several executions, says the process with 53-year-old Dennis McGuire started out as others have, with the inmate making a final statement and then closing his eyes. But then Johnson says McGuire appeared to be having trouble breathing.

LISTEN: Kasler on what went wrong with the execution

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (3:42)


LISTEN: Abbreviated version

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (1:11)


“Clearly this did not go the way the prison system wanted," says Andrew Welsh Huggins, one of the most experienced reporters in Ohio when it comes to executions. He’s written a book about the death penalty in Ohio and has witnessed about a dozen executions, including the lethal injection of 53-year-old Dennis McGuire today.

Columbus Dispatch reporter Alan Johnson has seen 18 executions, and was in Lucasville for McGuire’s execution as well.

“It was just um, unpleasant to watch, to be candid.”

These veteran reporters were both at this execution because it was historic. It was the first time an inmate in the U.S.  would be put to death with a mix of the sedative midazolam and the painkiller hydromorphone. Johnson says McGuire told his family he loved them and thanked the family of his victim, Joy Stewart, for a letter they sent him. McGuire had raped and killed Stewart, who was eight months pregnant, after meeting her at a friend’s house in 1989.

Johnson says McGuire waved at his family a few times, and closed his eyes – but then seemed to have trouble breathing. 

Gasping, rattling, choking
“At first it appeared to be like a snore or a snort. But then he began gasping deeply, his chest and stomach would compress and expand, and it was kind of rattling, gasping, even choking sound, I would say. And this went on intermittently for at least 10 minutes, perhaps a little more.”

“At first it appeared to be like a snore or a snort, but then he began gasping deeply. His chest and stomach would compress and then expand and it was kind of a rattling, gasping, even choking sound I would say. And this went on intermittently for at least 10 minutes, perhaps a little more.” 

Johnson says McGuire’s body heaved up a bit as he was coughing and gasping, perhaps as a natural reaction to his respiration being shut down. Welsh-Huggins says there’s no way to know whether McGuire was in pain or in terror – or completely unconscious.

“We don’t know what he was experiencing. We have no idea if he was in pain and probably will never know. This obviously is going to become part of the lawsuit about Ohio’s lethal injection process very quickly.” 

'Ohio's experiment failed'
McGuire’s attorney Allen Bohnert is the lead attorney in that lawsuit, which has been ongoing since 2004 and has more than 90 inmates as plaintiffs.

“The short version is, Ohio’s experiment failed.”

Bohnert says what happened was entirely consistent with what he had argued in court would happen, and he says it backs up the concerns that a federal judge expressed about the process when he allowed the execution to go forward.  Bohnert says now there should be no question that this method isn’t right. 

“Ohioans need to understand that the death penalty is carried out in the name of every single citizen of the state of Ohio. We are all culpable. Ohioans should be appalled at what happened, and especially at what happened in their names.”

Welsh-Huggins says by his timing, this was one of the longest executions ever performed in Ohio, and he says he noted that it took several minutes for the medical technician to declare McGuire dead, It’s normally a much quicker procedure.

A review is underway
The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction said in a statement a review will be conducted, as it is after every execution.

The next execution is scheduled for March.

This is the latest problem to come up in an execution in Ohio. A 2006 execution took nearly 90 minutes, with the inmate raising his head at one point to say that the drugs weren’t working. In September 2009, an inmate who’s still on death row essentially survived his own execution after prison officials tried for two hours to find a usable vein for the lethal injection and couldn’t. 

Listener Comments:

Once again,the United States is the Scorn of all CIVILISED European countries.
This is the reason that Americans are not welcome in Europe,and the reason that the Italian pharmaceutical company stopped selling Sodium Thiopental to the United States.
ohio is now in the top three states for executions.
It is surprising that the U.S.Supreme Court allowed the Death judgment to be carried out in this case.


Posted by: Erik (Akron) on January 17, 2014 12:01PM
Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook




Stories with Recent Comments

Portman predicts McDonald's confirmation, but says it won't be easy
I sent the following note to Senator Blumenthal after reading commentary from yesterday's hearing: Senator, You certainly have the right to ask Mr. McDonald que...

Seven minutes changed everything, but what changed Ashford Thompson?
He shot the guy four times in the head. I have never been that drunk or mad, and I have been through it. Shoot a guy once is bad, maybe a mistake, shoot a guy f...

First cricket farm in the U.S. opens in Youngstown
I am interested in cricket flour to replace soy flour in a low carbohydrate diet. As soon as you have cricket flour available for the average person, please le...

New process starts digesting sludge in Wooster
Awesome! When do our sewage rates decrease accordingly?

Akron's Chapel Hill Mall in foreclosure
Not a surprise. Between the shoplifting, gangs and violence that goes on up there it is no wonder that no one feels safe to shop at Chapel Hill. They have sca...

Ohio launches investigation into at least one Concept charter school
I worked at Noble Academy Cleveland as admin assistant and enrolment coordinator for 6 years, I know this is so valid and true and can provide staff names and p...

Crisis looms in filling aviation industry jobs in Ohio and the nation
I listened to this story yesterday morning on the radio and just want to add this comment. My son went to school to train as an air traffic controller, and gra...

Cuyahoga Valley National Park considers fire to fight invasives
I'm for the controlled burn. There are not enough people (myself included) who volunteer for the removal of invasive plant species. Therefore, another solution ...

Copyright © 2014 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University