Ohio Drops 2-Drug Lethal Injection Method After Lethal Injection Goes Bad
On February 11, 1989, 22-year-old Joy Stewart was forced out of her car, raped, and murdered. Her throat was slashed so severely that both her carotid artery and jugular vein were severed, and her body was left in a rural area in the woods in the rural area of Preble County. As if this crime was not already brutal enough, Ms. Stewart was approximately 30 weeks pregnant at the time. Her unborn baby died with her that day. Because of the senseless and terrifying acts of a criminal, two lives were cut tragically short.Ultimately, the man who perpetrated this vicious crime, Dennis McGuire, was convicted and placed on Death Row. On January 16, 2014, the state of Ohio executed him. What made this instance of capital punishment different from all the rest was that it represented the first use in the country of a two-drug cocktail to perform the lethal injection. The mix consisted of midazolam, a powerful sedative, and hydromorphone, a morphine derivative painkiller. It took Mr. McGuire 26 minutes to die, during which time he made snorting and gasping noises and appeared to struggle for air. As a direct result, a clamor arose throughout the nation about the safety and humanity of administering this particular death potion. In addition, Mr. McGuire’s wife and children took legal action against the state of Ohio. Since the time of McGuire’s death, Arizona also used the same drug combination, with equally disturbing results.As a direct consequence, Ohio drops 2-drug lethal injection method, leading to a delay in several scheduled executions while it obtains different drugs. The proposed pharmaceuticals of choice are doses of either pentobarbital or thiopental sodium. Since it can no longer be purchased internationally, it is expected that Ohio would need to get its supply of thiopental sodium from a compounding pharmacy. Pentobarbital, too, is only available via compounding pharmacies and has been used without incident for executions in both Missouri and Texas.In order to pave the way for lethal injection drugs to be imported into Ohio, Governor John Kasich recently signed a bill that would allow for the shielding the names of the pharmaceutical companies that provide these chemicals. Nevertheless, now that Ohio drops 2-drug lethal injection method, the fate of several of its Death Row inmates is up in the air. The executions scheduled for March, May, July, September and November cannot occur unless and until Ohio secures a safe and reliable supply of lethal injection drugs.
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