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May 13, 2010

Ohio completes yet another uneventful one-drug lethal injection execution

As detailed in this local story, Ohio was able to complete with out obvious incident yet another execution this morning using its one-drug protocol:

After playing the keyboard and crying in his cell, Michael Beuke -- the Hamilton County man known as the "homicidal hitchhiker" -- was executed today for a murder he committed nearly 27 years ago.

Beuke, 48, succumbed to the lethal injection drug at 10:53 a.m. at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility near Lucasville. Before the chemicals flowed into his bloodstream, he spent 17 minutes reciting the Rosary. He also recited an early Christian creed and the Lord's Prayer as tears rolled down his left cheek.

Witnesses were shaking their heads before his repetitive statement was over, clearly impatient it went on so long. He also apologized to the widows of his victims.

Once the drugs started flowing, Beuke became completely still within three minutes, and was pronounced dead seven or eight minutes later. Among those who witnessed Beuke's execution were Susan Craig, the widow of murder victim Robert Craig, 27, and Dawn and Paul Wahoff, the children of Greg Wahoff, 28, another of Beuke's victims. Greg Wahoff was paralyzed and wheelchair-bound after he was shot in the face and back by Beuke, to whom he had given a ride.

Beuke's attorney, Dale Baich, a federal public defender from Arizona, filed numerous unsuccessful appeals in the past week. Baich was on the case because he originally represented Beuke when Baich was with the Ohio public defender's office....

Prison officials said Beuke was very emotional when he arrived at the prison yesterday morning and continued crying as he talked to his attorneys throughout the day. He did not ask for a special last meal, instead opting for the standard dinner: chicken a la king, mashed potatoes, lima beans and peaches. Prison officials allowed him to have the keyboard for his final day on Earth....

Prison officials were concerned in the past week that they might not be able to procure enough thiopental sodium, the single drug used in Ohio executions, because of a worldwide shortage. However, the state was able to find enough of the drug to kill Beuke.

He was the fifth Ohioan executed in five months this year and the 38th since capital punishment resumed in 1999. With an execution scheduled each month through November, the state is likely this year to eclipse the seven men executed in 2004, the modern record.

This is the first I have heard about a worldwide shortage in thiopental sodium, the single drug used in Ohio executions.  Perhaps for this reason, the state is strangely fortunate that the Ohio Supreme Court has been so far unwilling to have executions scheduled for mone than one each month.

May 13, 2010 at 11:43 AM | Permalink


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This guy's federal habeas petition lasted for 16 years. That's unacceptable.

Judge Martin's dissent was over the top. This is not "human experimentation." Nor is his citation to the Romell Broom case at all persuasive. First of all, it is doubtful that repeated needle pricks meant that the execution went "horribly awry"; second of all, Broom's case is inapposite, as venous access was not a seriously contested issue in Beuke. Third of all, given that over 1000 executions happened in the same manner as Broom's execution, it's the height of sophistry to call it "human experimentation," which has ugly Nazi connotations. (I guess there's no rhetorical excess that is out of bounds in a vain attempt to save a killer.)

Judge Martin's complaint about the lack of review is weak. He makes no attempt to get around obvious problems of timeliness. His main complaint appears to be that, quelle horreur, the Sixth Circuit doesn't get a chance to weigh in on this execution. Funny, a federal judge's desire to throw in his two cents' worth obviates a killer's attempt to game the system by filing a last minute claim. Moreover, despite Martin's rhetorical excesses, the effects of Ohio's LI drugs on the human body are well known. Thus, the reality is that there is not much there there, and Martin's desire for a shot at the procedure is little more than a make-weight argument--Martin doesn't like the death penalty, and he's willing to trash a humane procedure and denigrate his colleagues to make his feelings known.

Posted by: federalist | May 13, 2010 1:08:08 PM

"Four Kurds – Farzad Kamangar, Ali Heydarian, Farhad Vakili, Shirin Alam-Holi - along with Mehdi Eslamian, were hanged on Sunday, 9 May at Evin prison in Tehran.
The five were accused of "enmity against God" for carrying out "terrorist acts" and convicted of this vaguely worded charge which can carry the death penalty and is usually applied to those who take up arms against the state.
Iran has one of the highest rates of executions in the world. To date in 2010, Amnesty International has recorded over 80 executions."

While the US maintains its own support of the the concept of the death penalty, it can have no influence on countries such as Iran, China and others to observe principles of human rights in this respect. Why should they observe any international pressure when the US acts in exactly the same way? Maybe there are those who would even support the right of Iran to kill in this way if they used the wonder drug used in Ohio!

Posted by: peter | May 13, 2010 1:13:32 PM

The idea that the USA and Iran "act in exactly the same way" is, well, remarkable. It's hard to say whether it's more insulting or more preposterous.

There is something that needs saying about Iran, however, namely that it needs to be deterred by whatever means prove necessary before it launches the next Holocaust. They say they intend to wipe Israel "off the map," but I have yet to see any commenter on this blog take this a bit seriously, though it would constitute one of the most horrific crimes in human history.

I guess we just can't say anything bad about jihadism, right? Due process and all that. Better to talk about how Lawrence Taylor is being put upon by the system merely because he arranges to have sex -- sometimes called statutory rape -- with a teenage girl being pimped to him.

Glad we have our priorities in order here.

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 13, 2010 1:46:10 PM

Bill, people like peter suffer from such a lack of perspective that responses to them are particularly useless. Anyone who thinks: Iran has death penalty; US has death penalty ergo death penalty is bad is either too stupid to respond to or too disingenuous to respond to. Iran has some system of public welfare too--so do we, does that make public welfare bad?

Posted by: federalist | May 13, 2010 3:13:11 PM

Bill--As a law and order type myself, I usually am with you, but your non sequitur here, given your usually insightful observations based on a distinguished career that I admire, is a little disappointing to me.

I think the proper response to Peter would have been: your statement is based upon a fundamentally wrong premise, namely, that the United States has an interest in telling the world to stop capital punishment. The United States supports capital punishment for particularly egregious crimes. Our moral authority is saying that you shouldn't be executing people for sodomy or selling drugs, which we don't do in this country.

But just for humor, here is why claims of the next nuclear holocaust are wrong:

(1) Under Iran's governmental structure, the President (Ahmadinejad), who is the one threatening to wipe Israel off the face of the map, does not have any military authority--that authority lies with the Supreme Leader and the commanders of the armed forces. I would submit that Khamenei and the military commanders have a lot more interest in maintaining their plush lifestyles than starting a nuclear holocaust that ensures Iran will become the world's biggest glass factory.

(2) If Iran truly wanted to destroy Israel (and ensure its own destruction in the process), it already could have done so through its biological weapons program, which is one of the most nefarious in the world. A well-placed biological attack would easily kill more Israelis than a well-placed nuclear attack. (The Dept. of State estimates that a well-placed nuclear attack in the U.S. would kill 100,000, but a well-placed bio attack would kill over 1 million--I'm assuming those numbers would be comparable in Israel. And if I know that, there's no way that Iran's military doesn't.)

(3) Why won't nuclear deterrence work? Though I frequently hear "because Iran's government doesn't care about survival," I've never seen or read anything to support this.

Posted by: Res ipsa | May 13, 2010 3:22:57 PM

Res ipsa --

I didn't attempt an explanatory response to peter because, for the reasons federalist explains, it would do no good. The notion that there is any meaningful similarity between the justice systems of the US and Iran is so absurd that if a person doesn't get it, there's no use in trying to explain it.

Instead I used his reference to Iran to talk about the real problem with that country, namely that it poses an existential threat to Israel. Contrary to your view, if Iran strikes Israel, Obama will do nothing, and the mullahs know it. Instead, he will announce that, after agonized deliberation, he has concluded that launching a retaliatory strike would plunge the Mideast and the world into bloody chaos, kill thousands of innocents, and vastly injure the world's economy. So instead we will seek the 18th round of UN sanctions.

Obama is even weaker and more cowardly that Carter, and the Supreme Leader and everyone else there knows it. When has he ever, ever given them reason to fear him?

As for my non-sequitur about Lawrence Taylor, I admit it. The reason I did it, and will be doing more of it, is that the commentary on this site is becoming other-worldly. The predominant reaction to the Lawrence Taylor thread was that the statutory rape charge was a prosecutorial plot to savage Taylor by depriving him of a legitimate defense. Specifically, the allegation -- as ever here, made without a shred of evidence -- was that the real problem was not that Taylor is an exploiter of children and a pervert, but that the abused girl was a "ho."

How many defense types did you see take objection to that? Clue: zip.

This blog is just crawling with self-righteous, pious types loudly and forever proclaiming their moral superiority to their fellow citizens. They pat themselves on the back without relent about their compassion. Yet when compassion might justifiably be shown to the teenage victim of this pervert's lust, not a single defense type shows up, EXCEPT to suggest how Taylor might inveigle his way to a lesser charge.

Enough. Really, Res ipsa, enough. You've seen it as much as I have.

Still, I appreciate your generous remarks about my career. I had a great ride, and I never had to make up some fancy story to the younger people in this family about what I did for a living or the kind of people I spent my time working for.

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 13, 2010 4:41:51 PM

Just to clarify, Bill, I didn't mean the Lawrence Taylor bit was the non-sequitur--I understand you were using that to make a valid point, i.e., lots of yelling about the poor murderers while lots of silence about (or worse, contempt for) the victims. Admittedly my comment was ambiguous, and so I apologize for not being as specific as I should have been.

To clarify, my non-sequitur comment was referring to this: "I have yet to see any commenter on this blog take this [Iran] a bit seriously, though it would constitute one of the most horrific crimes in human history." I would not expect to see that either, given that this is a criminal law blog and not a foreign policy blog. And for that reason, I don't think that Peter's failure to raise concerns about Iran's nuclear capability is a legitimate point against him--and to raise it against Peter (and all other commenters) comes off as an unwarranted pot shot.

Posted by: Res ipsa | May 13, 2010 5:16:03 PM

Res ipsa --

Iran's threat is not a criminal law matter, that's true. It is, however, a looming danger on the planet that in my opinion threatens a second Holocaust.

I generally stay away from foreign policy here, but I am going to allow myself an exception for a menace on the scale Iran poses. This is especially so when another poster, in this instance peter, starts off talking about Iran on a thread that was supposed to be about a lethal injection in Ohio. Once the door gets opened, admittedly just at an angle, it's not just the Left that gets to step in.

I agree with your criticism of me that this is ideally not the way to go. The way to go, IMO, is to be responsive, honest and balanced. But recently the comments in one thread after the next have turned into footnotes you would find in a defense brief. The site, however, is not a brief. I am generally against anonymity, but one of the legitimate uses for it here is to allow defense attorneys to say something critical about defendants and the way their profession is conducted. But it just doesn't happen. And it's not just Lawrence Taylor.

There was another piece recently about a defendant who faked service records in order to scam the judge into giving a low sentence. How much criticism of that did we see here, from the defense types? Zip. Not one bloomin' word. An outright fraud on the court, but as long as it was undertaken in behalf of a lower sentence, well, from aught that I saw here, boys will be boys.

And then people wonder why the defense bar has such low esteem among the public (even as they have exceptionally high esteem for themselves).

Someone needs to hold up a mirror and ask if they like what they see. If you have candidates to do that, I'm all ears, believe me.

Again, I appreciate the professional and analytic tone you bring here.

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 13, 2010 7:56:31 PM

I hate to admit this, but watching Bill come unhinged is the only reason I read the comments any more. For any death penalty post, they're pretty much an exact rerun, except now Bill is getting angrier and angrier. It's a hoot.

Posted by: a- | May 13, 2010 7:57:38 PM


Watching the defense yawn at child rape and fraud on the court might indeed unhinge me....if it were unusual instead of routine.

Hope you continue to enjoy the posts.

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 13, 2010 8:58:50 PM

Human experimentation refers to medical procedure that benefits the scientist or potentially, future patients. The subject consents knowing there will be no benefit promised. Sometimes, terminal cancer patients are willing to make a sacrifice on the small chance a new treatment will benefit them.

Trials of procedures for the benefit of the patient are called clinical care. Because of innumerable, unknown host factors, no treatment helps 100% of people nor hurts 100% of people. Finding the optimum match requires a set of on-off experiments. These are called clinical care.

Think of the specious arguments put forth to save savage, bloodthirsty mass murderers. Should they be called legal experiments. Because they are for the benefit of the mass murderer, they are called legal practice.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | May 13, 2010 9:25:30 PM

To peter,

It seems that, to you, all the similarity you need to equate the US and Iran is a similarity in punishment. Why disregard the other differences like the right to representation, due process or the fact that our criminals are convicted of killing/raping/robbing others instead of opposing the government? Do these things not matter to you?

And if similarity in punishment is all that bothers you then shouldn't you advocate the abolition of prisons? The Iranian regime maintains huge prisons of criminals and political convicts.

Posted by: MikeinCT | May 13, 2010 10:24:43 PM

MikeinCT - the problem is almost where to begin ....
The oppressed in countries like Iran fear for their lives because the US fails to recognize its responsibility with regard to the death penalty. That single act of abolishment would so strengthen the international voice of condemnation that countries like Iran would finally, if reluctantly, come to recognize that the game is up for the rule by terror. However tenuous you presently recognize the association, the retention of dp in the US legitimizes its wider use in the world. It is not credible to claim that dp is a necessary, useful or desirable policy tool in a modern sophisticated society when examplars of states, from Canada to the UK, from Argentina to the EU, from South Africa to Mexico, have successfully abolished it. Or when successful exemplars exist within the US, from Michigan to New Mexico. Like it or not, the insular arguments for retention that you deploy are replicated by Iran and others, with terrible consequences.
I am sickened every time I hear Bill and others repeat the view that is it acceptable to sacrifice a life to save a life; or that punishment is of more consequence than tackling the causes of crime. They may not use the words, but that is the effect of there stand. Innocent men and women are executed, rarely one hopes, but without credible doubt. Millions of dollars are diverted from education, social, and crime prevention infrastructures and policies to prop up an ideologically and practically flawed dp system that has led to the execution of people securely held for decades.
"The Iranian regime maintains huge prisons of criminals and political convicts." - the US maintains huge prisons of criminals - apparently 1% of its population. In many states, these prisons eg. California, are so overcrowded, poorly provisioned, poorly managed, or institutions of such unnecessary and inhumane repression and violence that they disgrace the term civilization. In the US, innocent or non-dangerous people are held in apparently indefinite detention (in places like Guantanamo, or seconded to other nations whose laws or practices permit such detention). Whilst these facts can be stated, the US is held in contempt both by its friends and by its enemies. Denial is easy, but meanwhile the fact harms America, and harms the world.

Posted by: peter | May 14, 2010 2:20:02 AM

Peter: We have 17,000 extra-judicial executions every year in the USA. Not one word about those from the murderer advocate. You boohoo the incapacitation of the serial killer. Not a single ort of evidence of any thought to the 17,000.

LWOP grants absolute immunity to the murderer for all crimes after the first murder. And boy do they take advantage. These immunized killers, with a license to kill better than that of James Bond, kill 100's of people each year, guards, other prisoners, visitors. Thank the criminal lover, dumbass lawyer. The family of these victims of LWOP prisoners have good moral justification to bring street justice to the lawyers that enabled the murder of their loved one. This internal traitor has granted itself absolute immunity from any accountability for their malfeasance in torts.

Why on earth would the left wing hypocrite seek to privilege serial killers that way? The killer generates government jobs. The dead victim does not, and many rot. All such left wing advocacy is money motivated, and bad faith when that motivation is not disclosed.

As to the cause of crime, alcohol and antisocial personality, with a calculation about the odds of success and profitability.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | May 14, 2010 9:24:05 AM

Other major of crime: lawyers. They cause it by protecting it. They herd it into neighborhoods of people with dark skins. Meanwhile, where the lawyer lives, the death penalty is at the scene. The police shows up 3 cars at a time, within 2 minutes, blasting. Criminals know better than to act in a lawyer neighborhood.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | May 14, 2010 9:31:33 AM

I don't share your absolute certainty that the US's primacy is such that their abolition of the death penalty would lead countries like Iran to get rid of it.

For your information, the UK is in the EU.

The basic premise of your argument is wrong. Thank goodness the US imprisons as many people as it does. Otherwise, crime would be much worse in the US. Who's to say that Western Europe wouldn't have even less crime if murderers served more that seven or eight years in prison? If you really want to attack the root causes of crime in the US, you'd have to institute forced sterilization and much more permanent removal of children from dysfunctional families. It doesn't all come down to poverty and the schools. Real life ain't "Stand and Deliver". As Will Rogers said, "the United States is the only country to go to the poorhouse in an automobile".

Posted by: Alpino | May 14, 2010 9:35:30 AM

Alpino - thank you. As an UK citizen I am well aware the UK is in the EU. My use of the EU in my references was to indicate a block as large, in fact larger than, the US in terms of population. I think the usual comparison is less than half the area of the US but over 50% greater population. Of course, the UK by itself dwarfs the combined populations of Texas and Ohio. Geography lesson over ....
It always amazes me how much many Americans despise their own. "Thank goodness the US imprisons as many people as it does." - what a statement! The great American dream.

Posted by: peter | May 14, 2010 11:12:22 AM

Don't kid yourself, Mr. An UK Citizen, plenty of Brits wished that they didn't have a revolving door for the worst violent criminals. Imprisoning violent criminals quite justly protects those in society who are somehow able to behave themselves from those who just cannot.

Posted by: Alpino | May 14, 2010 12:39:44 PM

By the way, Michigan, which contains the murder mecca called Detroit, is hardly a convincing case for the abolition of capital punishment.

Posted by: Alpino | May 14, 2010 12:41:39 PM

The majority of Brits have had their preference for the death penalty frustrated by ultra-left wing, big government, rent seeking Commies running that sorry country for now.

Still not even a word of sympathy for the 17,000 murder victims in the US.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | May 14, 2010 1:03:55 PM

@ Peter,
Your contention is pure fantasy. Our opinions don't concern them. If it did, the Western world's embrace of Democracy would have compelled them to do the same and not brutalize their own people when the election was stolen from them in '09.

Posted by: MikeinCT | May 14, 2010 3:04:01 PM

Democracy cannot be compelled .... it is the dream of individuals, and is achieved by the courage and pursuit of that dream by those same individuals who come together to force change from within. Iran (and other countries) is full of such people who look to the West, and to the US, for hope and support. The renouncement of the death penalty by the US would have a far-reaching influence on the progress of democracy -- its symbolism of human rights is far greater than you understand.
Paraphrasing the words of a close relative (sister) of a murder victim following the ban on the execution of juveniles by the Supreme Court in 2005, "Killing more people is a response to the horrific things that have happened to us — it’s not the solution. It doesn’t deter. It doesn’t save us anything in terms of public safety. It does not really make us a safer or better people. In fact, how we treat those among us that are the worst of the worst is really how we are judged as individuals and as a society."; and from another - "I think it’s important that we recognize that we’re part of a global community and that this is a very gross violation of human rights in this country. We have to look at and recognize that we are violating a fundamental right to life that increasingly the rest of the world has recognized. And so I think it’s important that we look at International human rights as we’re shaping the laws in our country."

Posted by: peter | May 15, 2010 2:06:48 AM

English is your second language.

Posted by: Alpino | May 15, 2010 4:20:19 PM

bill: "Watching the defense yawn at child rape"

me: oh come on, you know full well if that precious little child victim of the rape committed a crime that the only thing you'd care about was locking her up as much as possible or even executing her. i'd find your concern for the victims of child rape much more convincing if you showed concern in any other area for children.

for what its worth, i actually agree on the ludicrousness of attacking the statutory rape laws on behalf of a 51 year old. its one thing to say its unfair for the 18 year old with a 16 year old girlfriend to be branded an icky perv (although my understanding is that those cases are in actuality comparatively rare and that almost all people on the registry really are icky pervs or rapists).

plus you said that i was barbaric for supporting castrating icky pervs who rape children or "men" who rape women. whatever, it is my belief castrating a rapist is way less barbaric than killing someone no matter what the supreme court claims our constitution says :P

bill: "and fraud on the court might indeed unhinge me"

me: what about all of the fraud conducted by the prosecution? its almost cute how you repeatedly have denied that prosecutors and police can't be always trusted to tell the truth but use one instance where a defendant was caught in a hilarious inept attempt at defrauding a court. all about all of those times when the prosecution or police "loses" exculpatory evidence or creates evidence. actually the fact that prosecutors always lie probably shows why no matter how appropriate and deserved it may be we can't actually castrate rapists :(

alpino: "If you really want to attack the root causes of crime in the US, you'd have to institute forced sterilization and much more permanent removal of children from dysfunctional families"

me: yikes! eugenics went out of style in the 1940s for a reason! come on bill, if you are going to complain about some slight mysognistic statements about a 16 year old who was forced into prostitution, why aren't you complaining about that statement which is filled with major mysognistic, sexist, not to mention racist implications. here's a hint for y'all - it wasn't men who were the focus of forceable sterilization during the eugenics movement.

but yet another reason why no matter how much an icky perv might deserve castration we can't actually do it. too many bad connontations.

ginny :)

Posted by: virginia | May 15, 2010 5:20:36 PM

Ginny --

Anytime you want to quote me saying that the police can ALWAYS be trusted to tell the truth, feel free.

I will, however, quote you: "..actually the fact that prosecutors always lie probably shows why no matter how appropriate and deserved it may be we can't actually castrate rapists."

And your documentation that prosecutors always lie is...where?

I do, however, appreciate your chiming in supporting statutory rape laws. What took you so long? John K calls the victim a "ho," based on zero evidence, and you have nothing to say until now???

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 15, 2010 8:25:41 PM

@ peter

So they'll listen on the death penalty but not about Democracy? Explain why they would make the exception

Posted by: MikeinCT | May 16, 2010 3:51:30 PM

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