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September 3, 2011

Ohio Gov Kasich postpones another execution based on lethal injection litigation

The fortuity of the setting of execution dates and the pace of lethal injection litigation has now led to an Ohio murderer getting a new two year lease on life.  The basics are explained in this local Columbus Dispatch story, headlined "Kasich postpones another execution; Judge’s criticism of lethal-injection protocol leads to delay until 2013":

Ohio’s third execution in a row has been postponed because of a court battle over lethal-injection procedures.  Gov. John Kasich yesterday postponed the scheduled Sept. 20 execution of Billy Slagle of Cuyahoga County until Aug. 7, 2013.  Slagle, 42, was sentenced to death for the 1987 murder of his neighbor, Mari Anne Pope.  He stabbed Pope 17 times with a pair of scissors after breaking into her house to rob her.

The nearly two-year delay is necessary because other executions are scheduled monthly, except in December, between now and that date.  The Slagle postponement is related to a lawsuit contesting Ohio’s lethal-injection protocol.  It is being heard by U.S. District Judge Gregory Frost. In blocking the July execution of Kenneth Wayne Smith, 45, of Hamilton, Frost criticized Ohio’s lethal-injection rules and procedures, calling them “haphazard” and unacceptable.

That prompted Kasich to postpone the Aug. 16 execution of convicted killer Brett Xavier Hartmann, 37, of Summit County, for 15 months.  The next scheduled execution is that of Joseph Murphy of Marion County, sentenced to death for murdering Ruth Predmore, 72, in 1987.  So far, there has been no delay in that case.

The Ohio Parole Board on Thursday recommended against clemency for Slagle, concluding that the excessively violent nature of the crime outweighed the mitigating effects of his turbulent childhood.

I find this latest postponement somewhat surprising given that, as reported in this prior post, Ohio a few weeks ago released a new lethal injection protocol.  But, given the inevitability of more litigation over this new protocol, perhaps Gov Kasich should simply be complimented for helping to ensure that the constitutional debates over the new protocol do not have to take place in the shadow of a September execution date.

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September 3, 2011 at 10:12 AM | Permalink


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This is what happens when you give into hack federal judges. Ridiculous. Kasich is soft on capital punishment. His weak tit clemency demonstrates that.

The one execution a month rule needs to be re-examined.

Posted by: federalist | Sep 3, 2011 11:29:19 AM

Once again: there are months without executions far sooner than two years out. Why set one so far ahead? This is just incompetent.

Posted by: MikeinCT | Sep 3, 2011 12:25:12 PM

As I have posted before, the Ohio DOC has requested from the AG and the Ohio Supreme Court that only 1 execution is scheduled per month. Also, they asked for no executions to be scheduled in December, presumably for holiday considerations.

If Florida ever scheduled all executions for "eligible" inmates at one a month, it would run into 2015.

Posted by: DaveP | Sep 3, 2011 6:49:45 PM


your post raises good questions. There are 4 months in 2012 that don't have Ohio execution dates excluding December. Why didn't Kasich schedule Hartmann and Slagle in one of those months?

That raises another question. How did the Ohio Supreme Court decide the dates for 2012? It doesn't make sense.

I also read somewhere that the Ohio Parole Board also asked for only 1 clemency hearing per month for death cases.

Posted by: DaveP | Sep 3, 2011 7:06:52 PM

The Ohio Supreme Court's not even following their own ridiculous once-a-month rule. There are no executions scheduled in December 2011, March 2012, May 2012, August 2012, October 2012, December 2012, January 2013, February 2013 and April 2013. Why on earth should Slagle's execution be put off until August 2013?

What's more, even if one accepts the once-a-month rule, entirely excluding December as an execution month is unnecessary. An execution could easily be scheduled for one of the first few days of December without interfering overmuch with holiday scheduling.

If the Ohio Legislature so chose, could they mandate that execution dates not be so absurdly limited?

Posted by: alpino | Sep 4, 2011 5:30:31 AM

This needs to be changed. Ridiculous. The real causes are a lack of urgency, an off the reservation federal judge and a wussy governor.

Posted by: federalist | Sep 4, 2011 9:47:49 AM

"Frost criticized Ohio’s lethal-injection rules and procedures, calling them “haphazard” and unacceptable."

Does a judge have to obey the law and various Rules of procedure? What kind of legal argument is that? It is just a feeling. Stabbing a neighbor with scissors 17 times for a few dollars is "haphazard and unacceptable."

Does the convict die eventually? Then the protocol serves its purposes. The remark is an ipse dixit, and abuse of judicial discretion. Kusinich should have filed ethics charges against the judge, demanded his removal, and carried out his duty to the public.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Sep 4, 2011 11:39:42 AM

I guess the question I would ask is something like this: regardless of whether they follow the written procedure, does the procedure they follow in practice actually violate the Baze standard of intolerable likelihood to severe pain? If it doesn't (and it is up to the condemned to prove that it does), then the state should be allowed to proceed. You don't need every detail spelled out in order to avoid that likelihood of severe pain (though doing so does of course help because it indicates that the state has thought through what it is doing).

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Sep 4, 2011 12:55:50 PM

These are all pretexts. Pretexts are false uses of the law, are in bad faith, and should be criminalized, or at least made a violation of a Rule of Conduct.

What is next, misspelled words stop the death penalty until addressed?

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Sep 4, 2011 3:01:19 PM

SC --

"What is next, misspelled words stop the death penalty until addressed?"

I think you're on to something. I hope Richard Dieter isn't reading this.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Sep 4, 2011 4:56:15 PM

Everyone knows that Frost is a dim bulb. Ohio should not have caved.

Posted by: federalist | Sep 4, 2011 9:23:11 PM

Many of you are fond of claiming good company in the civilized world for the death penalty. Looks like you may be losing a partner in the near future (Japan):
(click on my name to the link)

Posted by: peter | Sep 5, 2011 9:03:36 AM

Peter, we just think the death penalty is the right thing to do.

Posted by: federalist | Sep 5, 2011 12:21:29 PM

¶ Death to the predator is a better option when the intended victim is able to stop the attack before the predator succeeds.

↓ My Modest Proposal ↓
¶ Were I innocent and to be executed because appeals and post conviction petitions had failed, I would want to be beheaded at the State Capitol at noon (not 12pm), with all news media publishing in live/dead time.
¶ Physicians would be present to salvage all organs and body parts useful for donation and transplant.
¶ Enough bone would be saved to make a fine bone china plate.
¶ Upon documentation of my innocence, the plate would be imprinted with a smiley face stating, "We told you so!"; autographed by my supporters and presented to the General Assembly."
¶ ☺ My immodest proposal is too outrageous for publication ☺

Posted by: Jim Brady | Sep 5, 2011 1:23:49 PM

Jim Brady --

Innocence is the perpetual phantom of abolitionism. When you can't prove it -- and you can't -- you just make it up (Roger Coleman, call your office).

Do you really think Timmy McVeigh deserved merely a good, long stint in the slammer? Do tell!

Posted by: Bill Otis | Sep 5, 2011 6:29:10 PM

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