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Courts and Crime

Reaction continues to roll in to Ohio's longest-ever execution
Democratic lawmaker wants to force governors to witness executions

Karen Kasler
Ohio Gov. John Kasich has commuted four death sentences. Ohio plans to execute five men this year.
Courtesy of FILE PHOTO
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In The Region:

Reaction is still coming to last week’s problematic and controversial execution, one of the longest ones on record in Ohio. Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler has this roundup.

LISTEN: Continued and mixed reaction to execution controversy

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The family of Dennis McGuire plans to sue over his execution. Dennis McGuire Jr. says he and his sister were there to see their father die. 

“The agony and terror of watching my dad suffocate to death lasted more than 19 minutes. It was the most awful moment in my life to witness my dad’s execution. I can’t think of any way to describe it than torture.”

McGuire says the lawsuit seeks to stop the state not just from using the lethal drugs it used for the first time ever to put his father to death – but to stop all future executions. 

“After watching my dad’s execution, I know what cruel and unusual punishment is. I witnessed it. No one should die the way my dad did – no matter the circumstances.”

Should governors be forced to witness?
The troubles that Ohio has had in carrying out executions has led one lawmaker to propose adding to the audience of those witnessing the lethal injection process. Rep. Bob Hagan is a Democrat from Youngstown who opposes capital punishment. 

”I think that because particularly in the cases that we’ve had so many problems with lethal injection in this case, that the governor should be there, the director (of prisons) should be there.”

Hagan says since governors have the authority to commute death sentences to life in prison, he feels they should have to watch what happens when they don’t. 

“When a governor continues to lead most of the states in executing people and just walks away like it’s out of sight, out of mind, I think sometimes he forgets what his job is.”

Since executions resumed in Ohio in 1999, 10 inmates who had been sentenced to death had their sentences commuted by governors – one by Gov. Bob Taft, five by Gov. Ted Strickland and four by Gov. John Kasich.

Meanwhile, the family of McGuire’s victim, 22-year-old newlywed and mother-to-be Joy Stewart, issued a statement that reads: “He is being treated far more humanely than he treated her,” the statement reads. “Ultimately, we must all face judgment—both here on Earth and in heaven. It is time to face his judgment.”


Listener Comments:

Dennis McGuire? Wasn't he the animal who kidnapped, raped and murdered the 22 year old/30 week pregnant Joy Stewart in February 1989, then avoided arrest until December 1993. That's almost 5 years of freedom, in which time I am to wonder, "was he a model citizen." I kind of think not. This animal kidnapped the young newlywed, mother to be. He then raped her. Then he cut her throat. Do you think she gasped for breath? I do. Oh, poor, poor Dennis McGuire. He unconsciously struggled for breath for 19 minutes. BOO HOO !

Posted by: Bill Burns (Youngstown) on February 15, 2014 1:02AM
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