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Government and Politics

Ohio's Democratic leaders speak out against the death penalty
Ed FitzGerald is among those who want the state to stop executions until more questions are answered about Dennis McGuire's execution

Andy Chow
Rep. Nickie Antonio says Dennis McGuire's execution proves the death penalty can't be humane and wants to abolish it completely.
Courtesy of Ohio House of Representatives
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Some of Ohio’s Democratic leaders want the state to stop executions until more questions are answered about the death last week of Dennis McGuire. But the Democrats are not united.  As Statehouse correspondent Andy Chow reports, some are pushing for a moratorium and others a full-out ban.
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Last week Dennis McGuire, who raped and murdered a pregnant woman in 1989, was put to death. But his execution made headlines around the country after news outlets reported that McGuire appeared to be distressed and gasping for air.

Democratic Rep. Nickie Antonio from Lakewood, who wants to abolish the death penalty, says the state must thoroughly review what happened to McGuire.

“The use of the death penalty and execution in the state of Ohio — especially in the way it was handled and operationalized this last time -- just shows us that execution cannot be humane.”

Democratic gubernatorial candidate and Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald agrees that there must be a thorough review of McGuire’s execution but does not want to get rid of capital punishment.

“I think there are times when the death penalty is called for. I understand there are moral concerns, legitimate moral concerns about it, and I respect the people that have a different opinion on that. But my opinion really grows out of my experience as both a special agent with the FBI and a prosecutor.”

Antonio recognizes the internal debate among Democrats. Aside from her moral objections, Antonio believes capital punishment costs the state more compared to a sentence of life without parole.

The ACLU of Ohio has also called for a moratorium on executions.

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction would not comment on the issue until after it complete its review of McGuire’s execution. A spokesperson that likely will be before the next execution is scheduled on March 19.
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