The family of a convicted killer put to death plans to sue the state of Ohio, claiming the execution method was torture.
Fifty-three year old Dennis McGuire was put to death earlier this week by lethal injection. However, his execution was carried out with a concoction of drugs that had a never before been used in the U.S. (Via ABC)
McGuire's execution was unusually long — about 25 minutes — the longest in Ohio since the state reintroduced the death penalty in 1999, and reports indicate he appeared to be physically struggling as he died. (Via WCMH)
Columbus Dispatch reporter Alan Johnson, who's witnessed 18 executions during his career, says he's never seen the type of physical responses to an execution that were exhibited with McGuire.
"He gasped deeply. It was kind of a rattling, guttural sound. There was kind of a snorting through his nose. A couple of times, he definitely appeared to be choking." (Via WDTN)
For those reasons, McGuire's family is saying the execution method violated his constitutional rights to not be punished in a cruel or unusual way. (Via WCPO)
An attorney speaking on behalf of the family and their entire legal team, released this statement:
"At this point, it is entirely premature to consider this execution protocol to be anything other than a failed, agonizing experiment ... The people of the State of Ohio should be appalled at what was done here today." (Via The Columbus Dispatch)
According to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, the state ran out pentobarbital, a narcotic and sedative barbiturate, in September after its European-based manufacturers outlawed U.S. prisons from using it in executions.
The state then amended its execution policy to allow the use of the sedative midazolam and the painkiller hydromorphone to be used in place of pentobarbital. (Via The Washington Post)
CNN legal analyst Sonny Hostin says the lawsuit will likely spark a debate over what constitutes cruel and unusual punishment when it comes to the death penalty.
"I think it's going to delay any executions that are pending in Ohio, and I think it now pushes the subject to the forefront — counselor is going to disagree with me — how do we kill people?"
McGuire was convicted for the 1989 rape and murder of 22-year-old Joy Stewart, who was 7 months pregnant at the time. His family plans to seek a temporary injunction to halt future executions in the state using the new drug cocktail.