Ohio Inmate Suffered Agonizing Death or Did He and Does It Really Matter?

Ohio inmate died an agonizing death by lethal injectionThe world is in an uproar about an Ohio inmate who suffered an agonizing death. The question that has been posed is whether or not Dennis McGuire was faking. I’m not debating the theory of the death penalty but does it matter? Is the goal really to minimize the pain of an admitted killer who raped and killed a pregnant woman?

McGuire’s lawyers adamantly contend that their client was not faking as he repeatedly gasped for air and made other painstaking noises during his lengthy execution. Bear in mind I am not questioning or debating whether the death penalty should go or stay, for this article that’s not the issue. The issue is a man who admitted to being a rapist and murderer was executed by lethal injection and the process didn’t go as smoothly and some feel it should have. Whether he was faking or really in pain I’m sure he didn’t suffer as much as his victim did.

McGuire is no longer here so we may never know whether he was really in pain or putting on a great show. What we do know is that he was sentenced to die for fatally stabbing a pregnant woman after he raped her on February 11, 1989. The real victim, Joy Stewart, who was 22-years-old at the time of her death was 30 weeks pregnant when her throat was slashed by the deceased inmate.

Stewart was from West Alexandria, a small town nearly 20 miles west of Dayton, Ohio. She died at the hands of McGuire who choked, raped and slashed her throat so deeply that both her jugular vein and carotid artery were severed. Not only did Stewart die that day but so did her unborn child. Her body was found by two hikers in the woods of Preble County the following day.

I wonder if those who pity McGuire’s execution process remember what happened to this young woman or was it so long ago that it no longer matters. Allen Bohnert, federal public defender and one of McGuire’s attorneys, called his client’s “agonizing” death a failed experiment by the state of Ohio. He said McGuire struggled as he repeatedly gasped loudly for air while choking and making snorting sounds before he finally succumbed to the new two-drug execution. Bohnert said the people of Ohio should be appalled by what took place in their name.

Reportedly McGuire received the injection of lethal drugs and about four minutes later his agony began. It lasted approximately 25 minutes. I agree that is a long time for what has notably been a much fast process in times past but I still don’t understand what all the fuss is about.

While I believe it is sad that his wife and adult children had to watch their loved one die in such agony, it is much more unfortunate that they had to be put in such a predicament. The three of them sobbed while joining arms throughout the procedure done at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility.
For their sake I hope he wasn’t simply putting on a show.

The victim’s family said Joy’s death was the hardest thing they have had to suffer through and this has been a long time coming. They acknowledged the controversy regarding the drugs that were to be used during McGuire’s execution. The family said they understood that many were concerned that he might suffer and feel terror, but when they recall the events which led to Stewart’s death they believe her killer was being treated far more humanely that he treated his victim.

Stewart’s family said their loved one was forced from her car, raped, sodomized, choked and stabbed. She suffered much more terror and pain than what took place in that small windowless room of her killer. Ultimately, the family said, “Everyone must face judgment, on Earth and in Heaven. Now is his time.”

In Ohio McGuire was the first inmate to be executed this year. The execution had more news media on hand than in recent years. Ohio reinstated the death penalty in 1999 and since that time executions had almost become routine causing media presence to dwindle.

For McGuire’s final meal he ordered fried chicken, roast beef, toasted onion bagel with cream cheese, potato salad, fried potatoes with onion, butter pecan ice cream for dessert and a Coke to wash it all down.

Before he received the injection of lethal drugs McGuire thanked Joy’s family for the kind words and letter. He then turned to his family and told them he loved them, was going to heaven and would see them when they got there.

The world is in an uproar about an Ohio inmate who suffered an agonizing death. The whole situation is sad because a woman’s husband and her children’s father is dead. At the end of it all is it really important whether or not Dennis McGuire was faking? Some may call it harvest, karma or the law of sowing and reaping. If Joy Stewart’s killer suffered an agonizing death, the question should be whether or not it was it unjust.



Editorial By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)


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