An Ohio convicted killer, Dennis McGuire, who was put to death Thursday morning, appeared to take in several gasps numerous times and took an abnormally long time to die. It lasted over 20 minutes during an execution that took place with a combination of drugs which had never been tried before in the United States
McGuire’s attorney, Allen Bohnert, stated that the condemned man’s killing by the state of Ohio was agonizing, a completely failed experiment, and added that the residents of Ohio should be sickened and disgusted at what happened here today in all of their names.
McGuire’s lawyers had repeatedly tried to stop his execution last week by arguing that the untested method in which McGuire would be put to death might lead to a medical occurrence known as air hunger. This would cause the convicted killer to go through terror and agony as he attempted to catch his breath while he was being executed.
It was reported that McGuire, age 53, made some loud grunting noises during one of the lengthiest executions on record since Ohio restarted capital punishment back in 1999. It was almost 25 minutes from the time the lethal drugs were first allowed to start flowing and McGuire being pronounced as deceased.
Ohio prison spokesperson Jo Ellen Smith did not comment on how the execution progressed but stated that a standard review would be conducted, which was the normal procedure.
Ohio prison officials decided to use intravenous doses of two different drugs, the painkiller hydromorphone along with the sedative midazolam, in order to execute McGuire for him raping and murdering Joy Stewart, who was newly married and pregnant, back in 1989. This certain method was chosen after the supplies of a formerly used drug were taken away because the maker stated that it was not to be used for capital punishment.
Any executions that had been performed with the previous drug were normally much shorter and had not caused the kind of sounds that McGuire uttered.
This execution will certainly launch a whole new batch of federal lawsuits about Ohio’s lethal injection procedure. The state has five more executions scheduled for 2014, with the next on the calendar date of Feb. 19.
What was stated to be predominantly uncommon during the execution was the five minutes or so that McGuire was lying motionless on the gurney after the drugs had started to flow. He then gave a sudden kind of snort and for at least 10 minutes, he had uneven gasping and breathing. Usually during an execution, there are movements at the beginning and then there is inactivity.
In fighting for the execution to go as planned, the Assistant Ohio Attorney General stated that the U.S. Constitution forbids cruel and unusual punishment, but added that no convicted killers are entitled to be promised an execution which is free of any pain.
U.S. District Judge Gregory Frost was on the side of the state of Ohio. However, at the McGuire’s lawyer’s request, he told prison officials to photograph and also save the drug vials, their packaging and all syringes used during the execution.
While strapped onto one of the gurneys in the execution chamber, McGuire thanked his victim’s family for the kind words they had given him in a letter he must have gotten from one of them.
He then added to the rest of the small group there that he was going to heaven and he would see them all when they arrived.
Joy Stewart’s murder was unsolved for almost a year until McGuire, who was in jail on an unrelated assault charge, hoped to improve his legal situation. He lied to police investigators and told them he had information about Stewart’s death. He tried to place the crime on his brother-in-law but that scheme soon unraveled, and he himself was arrested on the rape and murder charge.
After a decade had passed, DNA evidence established that McGuire was the guilty party and he admitted to doing so in a letter he penned to Ohio Gov. John Kasich in December of last year.
The death row inmate had attorneys who stated that McGuire was physically, sexually and also mentally abused as a child and that he suffered from numerous diminished brain functions that caused him to act out impulsively.
After the execution, Stewart’s family stated they had forgiven McGuire but that did not refute the need for him to have to pay for what he did. If Dennis McGuire did suffer like it was believed, during his execution on Thursday morning, and took an abnormally long time to die, then it sounds like he might have actually started to pay.
By Kimberly Ruble