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March 10, 2011

Ohio completes first one-drug lethal injection with new execution drug

As detailed in this AP article, "Ohio executed an inmate Thursday with only one drug, previously used primarily to euthanize animals, marking the first time anyone in the United States had been put to death in that manner."  Here are more of the details:

Johnnie Baston, 37, was pronounced dead at 10:30 a.m. at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio, after receiving an infusion of the drug pentobarbital.  His attorney and two brothers witnessed the execution, along with five reporters.  Baston was sentenced to death for the 1994 killing of Chong Mah, 53, a Toledo store owner.

The execution comes after capital punishment in the United States was thrown in disarray in January when the only U.S. company that makes a sodium thiopental, which Ohio and most other states had long used in lethal injection, announced that it would no longer produce the drug.  The decision by Hospira of Lake Forest, Ill., was prompted by demands from Italy, which does not have capital punishment, that sodium thiopental -- which the company had planned to make at its plant outside Milan -- not be used for executions.

The decision forced states and the federal government to scramble for alternatives to the drug....  Shortages of sodium thiopental began after Hospira stopped making it in August 2009 because of problems obtaining one of the main ingredients, prompting doctors to turn to alternatives and some states to delay executions....

Last year, Oklahoma became the first state to switch to another method, replacing sodium thiopental with pentobarbital in its three-drug combination.  After winning a court challenge to that decision, the state has executed three inmates since December.

March 10, 2011 at 11:52 AM | Permalink


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Is it true that pentobarbital is "used primarily to euthanize animals"? Doesn't look like it from the Wikipedia entry.

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | Mar 10, 2011 12:27:05 PM

"In a 5-minute final statement, Baston said the governor should have respected the opposition of his victim's family to the death penalty and commuted his sentence to life without parole."

Posted by: Mary | Mar 10, 2011 12:51:23 PM

What Doug edited out:
Johnnie Baston was pronounced dead at 10:30 a.m., about 13 minutes after the 5 gram dose of the drug began flowing into his arms. About a minute into the execution, Baston appeared to gasp, then grimace and wince, but then was quickly still.
And who was it for? The victim's family? Whoops ... they are not believers in the death penalty and did not wish Baston to suffer this punishment. But never mind, if we can't justify it on closure for the family, we can always claim it is a deterrent. Whoops .... only one percent of police chiefs think that the death penalty is a primary focus for reducing crime. Oh well, .... it'll buy the Governor some more votes next time around, and the DA, and the Judge, ........
Will it? Should it?

Posted by: peter | Mar 10, 2011 1:07:34 PM

In the final analysis, I reckon he just flat out deserved it and the world's better off without him.

Posted by: alpino | Mar 10, 2011 2:59:53 PM

peter --

You get the prize for non sequitur of the year:

"[I]f we can't justify it on closure for the family, we can always claim it is a deterrent. Whoops .... only one percent of police chiefs think that the death penalty is a primary focus for reducing crime."

1. That X is not a "primary focus" for reducing crime hardly means that it is not a deterrent. At most it means that it is not a PRIMARY deterrent. Beyond that, I'm happy to see that you accept police chiefs as the word on deterrence. On what else do you accept them as the word? Long prison sentences, maybe? Search and seizure? Drug stings? Do tell.

And beyond that, why is it that you omit entirely the studies, of which you are well aware -- since I have previously told you about them and linked them -- that show the DP is in fact a deterrent? Would you say they kinda got "edited out," to coin a phrase? There are about two dozen of them over the last several years.

Is every one of them wrong?

That's not a rhetorical question. Is every single one of the multiple, independent studies showing the DP is a deterrent wrong?

Yes or no.

2. "Oh well, .... it'll buy the Governor some more votes next time around, and the DA, and the Judge, ........"

Good God what a lowlife you are. You are no moral arbiter, get it straight. There are huge numbers of intelligent people of good faith in this country, and yours, who believe in the DP as justice. But this fact doesn't for a minute stop your smear. You just dismiss people you don't know and have never met as vote-buying cretins. The idea that they approve of the DP for the same thoughtful reasons as the great majority of their fellow citizens just never occurs to you.

Actually, it does occur to you. You're just too arrogant and cocksure of your own righteousness to entertain it seriously.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 10, 2011 3:06:39 PM

Hi Bill
Glad to see I can still get you excited, even it does draw the usual venom.
re deterrence - in spite of your references, there are many others that find just the opposite, as you well know. The actual conclusion of the majority is that you would have to multiply the rate of state killing several-fold to achieve any significant statistical evidence of deterrence. Much as you might like the US to rampantly kill in the numbers that we understand China does, it is rather unlikely ever to happen. You might have the stomach for it, but most others do not. China's practice doesn't actually seemed to have had much of a deterrence either, since they still seen able to find as many people to execute year on year. As the police chiefs admit, there are far more important factors that deter crime, including murder - and they involve a different focus which have a much wider benefit to society.
Re politicians and the death penalty - there was ample evidence in recent elections that even some previously dp critical politicians suddenly developed a change of heart in a bid to retain their seats. It usually didn't work, but there you are. You are right that there are great numbers of intelligent people who know when they are being bought. There are others who have yet to be persuaded of the faults of the dp and the benefits of another way, but there is never an excuse for politicians and others to use the fear of crime to uphold systems of dangerous and unjust legal practice and doctrines. There are many issues of policy that are not driven by popular support, but are right and just. The abolition of the death penalty should be one of them.

Posted by: peter | Mar 10, 2011 3:45:21 PM

I really don’t see the benefit of calling someone a “lowlife” for being a DP opponent, or for that matter proponent. There are pretty good arguments on both sides, and it comes down to which factors you value more, as well as which studies you believe.

Posted by: Marc Shepherd | Mar 10, 2011 4:16:26 PM

Well said Marc Shepherd. It does seem that the art of "I respectfully disagree, and here's why" has been lost of late.

Posted by: Ala JD | Mar 10, 2011 4:30:00 PM

Marc Shepherd --

"I really don’t see the benefit of calling someone a 'lowlife' for being a DP opponent, or for that matter proponent."

Only I didn't call him a lowlife for being a DP opponent. I called him a lowlife for stating, on the basis of no evidence whatever, that the Governor, DA and judge in this case went for the death penalty to buy votes.

Maybe I should have called him McCarthy instead.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 10, 2011 5:05:46 PM

Ala JD --

How good of you to chime at this particular moment in the name of civility. Many times on this forum Kent, federalist and I (among others) have been called vengeance-driven Nazis, bloodlusters, savages and Neanderthals because we support capital punishment. Could you please quote for me a single post of yours in which you took execption to that?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 10, 2011 5:12:07 PM

I am neither a law student, nor a lawyer. It's been interesting, as always, to follow the discussion. It is interesting, too, the what followed from my first post has nothing to do with the victim's family opposing the death penalty and whether that should be respected. The wishes of victim's family does seem to garner more respect when the victim's family supports the death penalty. That's just an observation from a citizen and human being. I will say that I do oppose the death penalty. My opposition has nothing to do with who offenders are, but with who I am. As I follow discussions and court opinions that discuss so rationally (?) how best to kill someone, I find myself wondering, and amazed that these are the "good guys" and what definition of 'rational' is being used.

Posted by: Mary | Mar 10, 2011 8:37:27 PM

The feelings of the victim's family have been discussed at length in other threads.

On that topic, my feelings are this: the desire of the family, either for or against death, is to be taken into consideration before seeking death along with other factors. It is not up to them alone.

Posted by: MikeinCT | Mar 10, 2011 9:05:32 PM

Not sure Mike that that should be an absolute, but one thing is for sure---victims' families should not be jerked around by last minute stays, particularly by federal courts. The Supreme Court has fallen down on the job here.

Posted by: federalist | Mar 10, 2011 9:42:09 PM

Dear B'lotis:

You are a vengeance-driven Nazi, bloodluster, and savage - but, based on recent archeological evidence indicating a pretty high level of social development among the ancient Neanderthal - APPARENTLY NOT A NEANDERTHAL.

Congrats on your personal evolution.

Posted by: Samuel | Mar 11, 2011 2:29:35 PM

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