Ohio Ceases Two-Drug Execution Method

Announcement delays pending execution

A lawsuit asks Ohio to halt the procedure used during Dennis McGuire’s 26-minute execution.
A lawsuit asks Ohio to halt the procedure used during Dennis McGuire’s 26-minute execution.

In the sudden realization that like, hey, maybe we shouldn’t put people to death if we don’t really know what we’re doing, Ohio has dropped its two-drug execution method and will delay an imminent execution.

The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction today announced that it will stop using the method utilizing a combination of the sedative midazolam and the painkiller hydromorphone, which came under fire last year when it took 26 minutes to put convicted killer Dennis McGuire to death. Witnesses said McGuire was gasping for breath during his execution. His family is suing the state, claiming the execution caused needless pain and suffering.

Another execution in Arizona last year using the same method took more than two hours.

The state has said it will again use thiopental sodium, a sedative used until 2011, for executions. Ohio stopped using that drug because it is no longer produced in the United States. It is unclear how Ohio plans to obtain the drug, though compounding pharmacies, or labs that produce such drugs, could supply the state.

The announcement delays the execution of Ronald Phillips, who was convicted in the 1993 rape and murder of a 3-year-old girl. Officials say other executions may be delayed as well as the state sources the third drug or an alternative.

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