Ohio Execution: New Drug Combo Took 24 Minutes to Kill

Ohio's experiment with a new execution cocktail didn't go very well:

Dennis McGuire struggled, repeatedly gasping loudly for air and making snorting and choking sounds, before succumbing to a new two-drug execution method today.

The 24-minute execution process was a “failed, agonizing experiment by the state of Ohio,” said one of the killer’s attorneys, Allen Bohnert, a federal public defender. “The people of the state of Ohio should be appalled by what was done in their name.”

Shorter version: You wouldn't do a dog this way. More here. In 2007, Amnesty International released a report on botched U.S. executions.

This is not Ohio's first botched execution. [More...]

In 2007, it took the state two hours and ten tries to kill Christopher Newton. Nor is Ohio the only state. In 2006, Florida botched the execution of Angel Nieves Diaz. It lasted 34 minutes, prompting then Gov. Jeb Bush to halt all executions in the state.

What's the answer? Life without parole, for one. It's certainly not experimenting new drug cocktails on humans.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Simply barbaric. (5.00 / 5) (#1)
    by desertswine on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 09:43:46 PM EST

    What a country (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by koshembos on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 11:38:17 PM EST
    Health care is expensive, death is free.

    Death (none / 0) (#46)
    by Mikado Cat on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 08:57:17 AM EST
    penalty cases are hardly free, it costs a ton of money carry out a death sentence in most states. Cost alone is a good argument to stop executions.

    The catch is that death is still currently our harshest punishment, so if it has any deterrent effect on the most heinous of crimes many are reluctant to eliminate it.


    As barbaric (5.00 / 3) (#3)
    by lentinel on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 08:32:21 AM EST
    as it was, it seems to me that the guillotine was more humane. Zonk and it's over.

    Even the "headsman" of Merrie Olde England seemed to have more skill than these freaks with their chemical cocktails.

    Three Things... (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 09:20:41 AM EST
    ...why can't they use the drug the veterinarian uses.  Twice I have had to put a dog down and as painful as it was, they didn't suffer at all, simply faded away.  What I think is so weird is you can tell the exact moment in which they leave, something in the eyes just disappears.

    My second point may be related.  I believe theses states are having to changed their cocktails because the chemical supplies have threatened to stop exporting to the US because they don't want their drug(s) being used to terminated human life.  That in itself should be a huge red flag, groups whose only purpose is to generate profits are refusing to sell their product on moral grounds that doesn't happen often.

    Not sure if that is the drug Vets use, I don't think so for the fact that drug combo was always questionable about suffering, but I am not positive.  Plus the vet uses one chemical I believe, no cocktails.

    And lastly, this conversation is just plain creepy.  How the US demands that when we terminate a life there must be no suffering, as if the suffering is somehow more important then the actual taking of life.  Or that as barbaric as taking a life is, we must ensure it's done in a non-barbaric way.  That has never set right with me.  Even the most devoted pro-death penalty people agree with limited suffering, just seems so weird.

    I will never understand how taking a life painlessly is socially acceptable yet taking a life with say a minute of suffering is reprehensible.  To me taking the life is infinitely worse than the suffering that may or may not accompany it.  Yet many people are comfortable taking a life so long as their isn't suffering.

    I'll never get over the fact (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by jondee on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 10:32:37 AM EST
    that -- and I generalize only slightly -- the people most likely to believe in Hell seem to be the ones most likely to have very little problem with tormenting and torturing condemned prisoners. "Hale, the good Lord does it, why caint we?"  

    My vet uses phenobarbitol. (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by Mr Natural on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 10:35:50 AM EST
    Old fashioned but brutally quick.

    I've had to make a few of those vet visits.  They suck on every level.  It's always too late and it's always too soon.


    Too late and too soon (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by MKS on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 12:46:09 PM EST
    So very true.....terrible thing....Terrible unfairness of life that the life expectancy of our friends is so low.

    May actually be pentobarbital (none / 0) (#8)
    by Mr Natural on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 10:46:20 AM EST
    according to wikipedia.

    The only manufacturer of an injectable form of Pentobarbital apparently refuses to sell it to prisons, which being the founts of stupidity they are, are too stupid to figure out a way around that.


    I'm one of those bleeding-hearts who (5.00 / 4) (#12)
    by Anne on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 10:51:55 AM EST
    is opposed to the death penalty, even in cases of the most heinous of crimes.  For one thing, there are too many instances where it turns out the person convicted is not the person responsible for the crime.  If you execute that person, there's no bringing him or her back.

    For another, if what you are looking to do is punish someone, you could argue that confining that person to a prison cell for life or some other lengthy period of time is infinitely more punitive than giving them the needle.

    Third, it makes no sense to me that we choose to kill people for killing other people; if killing is wrong, it should be wrong for the state, too.

    And I can already hear the anti-choice crowd asking how I can make the distinction between a fetus and a grown person, but in my opinion, there is a distinction and it's really not that hard to see it.  If I have to, I'll expand those thoughts, but for now, suffice it to say I've considered that dilemma and resolved it in my own mind.  I haven't, however, been able to resolve the notion that aborting a life not yet actualized is wrong, but taking the life of a real, live person is okay, as long as we judge the soon-to-be-dead person as not worthy of living.


    I Totally Agree... (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 12:40:08 PM EST
    ...the punishment for the most heinous crime, murder, is murder, WTF.  That some real 'eye for an eye' old testament barbarianism.

    I was trying not to go there, just pointing out the hypocrisy in killing someone and worrying about their last minute suffering.  The two in my book will never reconcile.  If they care so much why are they ending a life, and if they don't, who cares if they suffer for a couple of minutes.  They are killing them for christ sake, pretty sure that is the larger of the two evils, by a very large margin.

    Plus it's not good for humanity to spent all this energy trying to figure how to kill people.

    It does prove that Christians don't give a damn about following their own religion which clearly teaches things life forgiveness and humanity.  Jesus whould never approve of killing anyone, for any reason, yet Christians manage to justify executions, right after they whine and cry about the rights of a zygote.


    It's scary how widespread that attitude is (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by jatkins on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 03:48:28 PM EST
    Of course these people don't realize that 1) the Bible is not supposed to dictate American law 2) it's the Old Testament, ffs 3) the whole point of "an eye for an eye" was to limit retribution and keep it proportional and 4) it was metaphorical, not literal.

    Looking over the comment threads on the main news sites is pretty disturbing. Even some of the top-rated comments on the NYT article (!) were from people pointing how glad they are the killer was tortured to death.


    While the legal system is as skewed in favor of (none / 0) (#16)
    by Mr Natural on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 11:06:01 AM EST
    the state as it is now, little more than a game, cops routinely lying and prosecutors abetting their lies, suppressing evidence at every turn, there's no reason to trust trial results.

    And as Jeralyn has often detailed, the pressures to plea bargain are enormous.  Charges piled atop charges.  Ten ways to charge every incident.  Judges punishing anyone who has the temerity to ask for a trial.

    If the system hadn't evolved into such a freakin' game, if trials actually were fair inquiries into guilt or innocence, maybe then we could rid society of the worst and most repellent actors.  Until then, no way.


    Innocent people have been executed (none / 0) (#18)
    by Aspidistra on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 11:41:33 AM EST
    That fact alone should be enough to stop this barbaric practice.  Also the number of people on death row who were subsequently acquitted is over 100.  You'd think that might give people pause.

    The thing that gets me is that the people who go on and on about how 'the government messes up everything it touches', 'the government can't do anything right', etc., suddenly become true believers in the perfect infallibity of government officials when it comes to the death penalty.

    I mean, if you really believe that the government is incompetent, why would you trust it to accurately carry out the death penalty??


    I'm not sure they're really sure the system is (none / 0) (#35)
    by jatkins on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 03:44:49 PM EST
    infallible; they just don't care. Some people really have the attitude, "Take one for the team", which is a gentle way of supporting state-sponsored murder.

    The thing that gets me is how they never punish states or individuals for wrongful executions. "Look forward, not backward," or something.


    I think it has more to do with the (none / 0) (#7)
    by Anne on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 10:40:49 AM EST
    8th Amendment's prohibition of "cruel and unusual punishment," Scott; if you google it, you'll get tons of writings on it.

    "Cruel and unusual" is one of those terms of art that courts have spent a lot of time considering the meaning of, so I'm not sure you'll be any clearer on the ramifications of lethal injection issues after you read through some of them.

    But it's an interesting subject - one I'm sure the TL community can argue endlessly!


    Life sentences meet every definition of cruel, (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by Mr Natural on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 10:48:28 AM EST
    but they're not unusual.

    Life sentences (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by jbindc on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 10:49:41 AM EST
    Are not "cruel" in every case.

    At least, not for those who go out and rape and murder people.

    That's called justice.


    Nope, it's called three hots and a cot. (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Mr Natural on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 10:51:02 AM EST
    So? (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by jbindc on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 10:54:06 AM EST
    You kill, maim, and/or rape someone, we're supposed to feel sorry for you if you get a life sentence?

    Oddly enough, I can feel sorry for anyone (5.00 / 2) (#30)
    by ruffian on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 01:26:13 PM EST
    in abject circumstances, even if they did it to themselves.

    i think it is called compassion.


    Actually they FIRST (none / 0) (#33)
    by jimakaPPJ on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 02:58:07 PM EST
    did it to someone else.

    Only the sentence was NO life.

    LWOP works for me but I have zero sympathy for the killers.


    Well....I think I could call it (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by Anne on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 11:50:14 AM EST
    "punishment," but the whole "justice" thing is just so subjective, I don't think I could call it that.  

    What do you call it when someone is acquitted on technical grounds?  Is that justice, too?

    As much as I believe in accountability, and in appropriate punishment, I also believe in redemption and rehabilitation.  What is remarkably lacking in our prison system are efforts to help people change, to become better people - there's never enough money for that, apparently.  Nor is there ever enough money to throw at the problems and conditions that contribute to people turning to crime in the first place - so we end up with a revolving door from community to prison and back to community, and I don't find there to be much, if any, justice in that - for anyone.

    So, we expect people living and acting no better than dogs on the street to then be housed in prison as if they were being boarded at the kennel, and then we wonder why, when they make it out, they act like animals.

    I'm not sure, to tell you the truth, if we even are capable of delivering justice anymore, not when so much of it is dependent on one's station in life, how much money one has, who one knows,  and whether one can afford expensive legal representation.  Murder may be murder, and rape may be rape, but the poor man accused of these crimes stands a much greater chance of paying for his crimes than someone of means.  

    How is that justice?


    A life sentence MAY be justice (none / 0) (#14)
    by jondee on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 11:00:56 AM EST
    (a very big word, like "deserve", that a certain kind of person likes to throw around)..a life sentence in an inhumane hellhole is never, under any circumstances justice.  

    "A certain kind of person" (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by jbindc on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 11:04:37 AM EST

    Yes, one who believes that if you kill someone, or rape the, or maim them, you actually deserve to punished, and not get a slap on the wrist.

    As opposed to other kinds of "certain people" who always believe that everyone (except those with whom they disagree politically) are good and misunderstood and the system is out to get them.

    "Certain kinds of people".



    Heh (3.67 / 3) (#17)
    by jondee on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 11:13:16 AM EST
    ya, I remember you. You're the one who had no problem with tazing a gradeschooler.

    You'd probably go to the wall for those pigs in Fullerton who beat that homeless man to death as well.

    Vengance is mine, saith jb.


    They are not even (none / 0) (#26)
    by MKS on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 12:58:31 PM EST
    going to arrest the cops who shot an unarmed Marine Corps Sergeant who was in his vehicle with his daughters at a local high school.

    The cops watched him walk around.  They let him get back in his vehicle without stopping him and then shot him as he started his SUV up, with daughters in the back.

    The cops said they needed to stop him from driving under the influence.  Well, they had three cruisers parked right in front of the guy. And the Sergeant's car was off to the side of a high school parking lot in a tiny little patch of asphalt between the gym and the football field, and was at least a couple of hundred yards away from the road in front of the high school.  With three cruisers, they should have been able to block him from going anywhere.  

    And, the Sergeant was African American of course.


    Except whe the cops do it (none / 0) (#24)
    by MKS on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 12:48:48 PM EST
    Then there is very little accountability.  Another acquittal here of cops who killed a subdued and unarmed man....

    Honest Abe once said.... (none / 0) (#20)
    by kdog on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 12:01:27 PM EST
    "I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice."

    Was that before or after (none / 0) (#34)
    by jimakaPPJ on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 03:00:26 PM EST
    he suspended the writ of habeas corpus?

    You surprise me, Jim (none / 0) (#39)
    by Yman on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 06:24:44 PM EST
    I thought you were a big proponent of fighting wars without any restraint, no holds barred, etc.

    You don't surprise me (none / 0) (#40)
    by jimakaPPJ on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 07:34:25 PM EST
    I ask a question and then you start making all sorts of claims.

    Sleaze is your game.


    "All sorts of claims" (5.00 / 1) (#41)
    by Yman on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 08:27:00 PM EST
    Funny, that wasn't a denial.  Just as your comment about Lincoln wasn't just "a question".

    Hypocrisy exposed ...

    ... again.


    heh (none / 0) (#47)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 09:41:05 AM EST
    Nothing "sleazy" about it (none / 0) (#48)
    by Yman on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 01:45:35 PM EST
    You claimed that it was silly to focus on Bridgegate because it only affected a small number of people.

    And to devote so much time to a happening that 99.999999999999999999% of the country is not affected by seems silly to a lot of us out here in flyover country. Most of us think living there is their choice and (*it happens.

    Then you pointed to Benghazi, IRSgate, and Fast and Furious, which you claim are legitimate scandals that deserve to be investigated, despite the fact that they affected far fewer people than Bridgegate.

    Your just don't like having your same, silly metric applied to your fairy tale "scandals".  The reason is obvious.


    No Yman, sleaze is is sleave (none / 0) (#49)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 02:28:27 PM EST
    And you doing that is sleazy.

    English (none / 0) (#50)
    by Yman on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 02:55:39 PM EST
    Up here in the NYC area, ...

    ... we actually learn it.


    The Great White Brotherhood (none / 0) (#51)
    by jondee on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 12:56:59 PM EST
    of the Sacred Teabag is apparently still smartin' over the actions of Honest Abe. No surprise there.

    That Was My Point... (none / 0) (#25)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 12:57:08 PM EST
    ...that murder isn't considered the cruel part, yet a couple of minutes of suffering is.  It's beyond silly to worry about ones comfort as you kill them IMO.  In the hierarchy of cruel, surely murder is numero uno outside the US (and many others) justice systems.

    At least that is how they rank it when someone other than the state does it.  If you were to make someone suffer for a couple of minutes, your sentence would be considerably shorter than if you murdered them.


    Saw how WY legislator just wants to go... (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by magster on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 12:31:38 PM EST
    back to firing squad.

    Why did hanging fall out of favor? I read that death is instant if the neck broke. All these new fangled methods of electrocution, gas chamber and now chemical injection seems to greatly prolong and complicate the dying.

    If the balance of the Supreme Court changes during Obama's term or next term assuming dems win, I don't see the death penalty existing past 2020.

    Well With as many Folks... (5.00 / 2) (#27)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 01:01:01 PM EST
    ...who accidentally kill themselves with generators and improper ventilation, seems like CO2 poisoning would be a pretty painless way to do it, you just fall asleep.  But I suppose using Nazi methods to kill people might not fly.  That mirror would be a hell of a thing for the nation to stare into.

    Seems like... (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by kdog on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 01:06:59 PM EST
    our "modern" methods have nothing to with minimizing the suffering of the condemned, but with minimizing the suffering of the executioner, witnesses and asorted parties to the legal murder.

    To that point... (none / 0) (#29)
    by magster on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 01:13:36 PM EST
    watching some guys' head smoke from an electrical fire, or hearing someone choke for air for 10 minutes like the person just killed in Ohio does much in the way of alleviating the suffering of the victim's families/executioners.

    True... (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by kdog on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 01:29:08 PM EST
    but I'm thinking that was the reason behind moving away from hanging or the guillotine or firing squad...the appearance of being more "humane" while performing inhumane acts.

    If we must murder people as a society, I vote for a lethal dose of morphine as the method...that's as humane as this brand of inhumane gets.


    What say (none / 0) (#32)
    by lentinel on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 01:59:49 PM EST
    yee to ye olde chopping block?

    Sometimes I wonder if the severed noggin is still conscious as it tumbles into the basket.


    Reports suggest that the disconnected bodies (none / 0) (#42)
    by Mr Natural on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 10:33:20 PM EST
    showed signs of life for as long as two minutes following guillotining.

    In fact Dr Pryayko brought to my attention that during the French revolution when thousands of people were beheaded by guillotine, the attending doctors documented the presence of vital signs in the body for up to two minutes.

    Whether the head remains lucid, however temporarily, is considered here, (and it doesn't look pleasant.)


    Oh (none / 0) (#45)
    by lentinel on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 05:51:30 AM EST

    Not a pretty scenario...


    I think the drug manufacturers who banned (none / 0) (#37)
    by jatkins on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 03:51:35 PM EST
    exports to US prisons should reconsider at this point. It was obviously well-intentioned (hopefully not just for PR) but if these inmates really were tortured to death, it's backfired horrifically. The DP states are pretty clear that come hell or high water they'll find a way to take life in the name of "justice"; perhaps it's best to let them just have the pentobarbital and get on with it.

    Family of Ohio Killer Executed... (none / 0) (#38)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 04:13:48 PM EST
    ...with untested drug mix plans to file lawsuit

    That didn't take long and while not being a lawyer, could the victim's family sue for the very same reason.

    I wish he had not been put to death, but really, the family suing because he was tortured to death, which is more or less is the same thing that put him on death row.

    Site violator (none / 0) (#44)
    by oculus on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 02:32:34 AM EST