Ohio killer to get ywo-drug injection untried in U.S.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio will use a two-drug
combination untried as an execution method in the U.S. to put to death a
condemned inmate who raped and killed a pregnant woman, the state
prisons agency confirmed Tuesday.
The determination means the
state was unable to obtain an unregulated batch of pentobarbital, the
drug Ohio used until its manufacturer put it off limits for executions.
Instead,
the state will use drugs from its untested backup execution method in
the Jan. 16 execution of Dennis McGuire, according to the decision
contained in a memo by Southern Ohio Correctional Facility warden Donald
Morgan and released to The Associated Press after a public records
request.
The untested method: an intravenous combination of
midazolam, a sedative, and hydromorphone, a painkiller. No state has put
a prisoner to death with those drugs in any fashion.
It’s Ohio’s
second attempt to use the two drugs in combination. The Department of
Rehabilitation and Correction intended to use the method last month to
execute a man who raped and killed his girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter.
But
that inmate, Ronald Phillips, won a reprieve from Gov. John Kasich
while the prisons agency studies the feasibility of his desire to donate
a kidney to his mother and his heart to his sister after his death.
The
two drugs were part of a backup method in which they would be injected
into an inmate’s muscle if the intravenous method failed. Because the
pentobarbital is unavailable, the two-drug combination will instead be
the primary method for execution and injected into McGuire’s veins.
McGuire,
53, of Preble County in western Ohio, was sentenced to death for
killing Joy Stewart in 1989 after meeting her while working on her
friend’s house. Investigators say McGuire raped and choked the
22-year-old Stewart and stabbed her in the neck and shoulder. The newly
married Stewart was about eight months pregnant.
Ohio’s revamped
execution policy calls for the state to try to buy specialty batches of
pentobarbital from compounding pharmacies, which mix individual doses of
drugs for specific patients. If that fails, the policy recommends the
use of the two-drug approach.
Florida uses midazolam as the first of three drugs, while Kentucky includes the two Ohio is using in its
untested backup method.
The Ohio Parole Board recommended against clemency for McGuire. Kasich has the final say.
McGuire’s attorney Rob Lowe said he was consulting with other members of McGuire’s legal team and
couldn’t immediately comment.
Attorneys
for McGuire have argued a jury never got to hear the full extent of his
chaotic childhood and physical, sexual and mental abuse he suffered.
They also say the fact the state offered him a plea deal — which McGuire rejected — should be considered
in granting him mercy.
Prosecutors say McGuire deserves the death penalty because of the shocking nature of the crime.
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Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/awhcolumbus.
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