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February 8, 2014

Lethal injection concerns leads Ohio Gov Kasich to postpone next execution for 8 months

As reported in this local article, "unresolved concerns about the drugs used to execute Dennis McGuire last month prompted Gov. John Kasich yesterday to postpone the scheduled March 19 lethal injection of Gregory Lott."  Here is more:

Without comment, Kasich rescheduled Lott’s execution, delaying it for eight months, until Nov. 19.  Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said the governor wants to give the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction time to complete its internal review of McGuire’s Jan. 16 execution.  “Gregory Lott committed a heinous crime for which he will be executed,” Nichols added.

It was the second execution that Kasich had postponed in recent months. On Nov. 13, Kasich pushed back Ronald Phillips’ execution to July 2 to give him an opportunity to pursue organ donation to a family member....

Attorneys for Lott, 51, quickly challenged his upcoming execution, arguing that the drugs could cause “unnecessary pain and suffering” in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. A hearing has been scheduled for Feb. 19 in U.S. District Judge Gregory L. Frost’s court.

The next question involves what happens to four other convicted killers scheduled to be put to death before November. They are Arthur Tyler, May 28; Phillips, July 2; William Montgomery, Aug. 6; and Raymond Tibbetts, Oct. 15.

Lott was convicted and sentenced to death for killing John McGrath, 82, by setting him on fire in his Cleveland-area home in 1986. McGrath survived in a hospital for 11 days before dying. Lott came close to execution in 2004, but the U.S. Supreme Court blocked it to give his attorneys time to examine evidence they said had been withheld. “We are very grateful for the governor’s decision,” said Dana C. Hansen Chavis, an assistant public defender from Knoxville, Tenn., who is one of Lott’s attorneys.

Kevin Werner, executive director of Ohioans to Stop Executions, praised Kasich for showing “ leadership and careful consideration” by issuing a reprieve. State Rep. Nickie J. Antonio, D-Lakewood, urged Kasich to “use his executive power to grant a full moratorium on executions until the state can guarantee that humane and constitutional policies will be utilized. Ultimately, I think such guidelines would lead to the abolishment of the use of the death penalty.”

I see little reason why it should take more than a few weeks for the Ohio DRC to conduct a complete review of the execution of Dennis McGuire. In addition, I expect more delay before conducting the next Ohio execution will end up facilitating still more litigation over Ohio's latest execution protocols and its new use of a two-drug execution cocktail.

That all said, I wonder if this delay is primarily designed to give Ohio officials more time to try to secure Ohio's preferred execution drug, pentobarbital, from a compounding pharmacy. Missouri a few weeks ago completed an execution using just a batch of pentobarbital manufactured by a compounding pharmacy, and I suspect Ohio would prefer to find a way to follow that execution approach rather that try again with the two-drug approach use to put down McGuire.

As has been the reality in Ohio for a number of years now, it seems that legal and practical uncertainty will continue to surround the state's efforts to carry out death sentences. But now the next execution date to watch closely will be in May rather than March thanks to Gov. Kasich giving Lott at least eight more months to be alive.

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February 8, 2014 at 08:49 AM | Permalink


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Kasich suffers from a lack of moral courage. At the end of the day, McGuire got enough to knock him out. He could not have felt pain. Maybe they need to jack up the dose so the body doesn't react, but this is optics, pure and simple.

Richard Dieter even says so.

Posted by: federalist | Feb 8, 2014 8:56:28 AM

Oh, sad sad day. Where is the vengeance?! Where is the vengeance?? Lack of vengeance, I say.

Posted by: Neanderthal | Feb 8, 2014 9:27:24 AM

Federalist, on the contrary, Kasich is refreshing in that he actually examines each case on its merits and exercises great moral courage in standing up to the mob with torches howling for execution.

Posted by: anon14 | Feb 8, 2014 11:55:45 AM

Hey Doug, in the second-to-last paragraph, you use the words "put down." Really?

Posted by: dm9871 | Feb 8, 2014 12:20:04 PM

anon14 --

"Kasich is refreshing in that he actually examines each case on its merits and exercises great moral courage in standing up to the mob with torches howling for execution."

It is emblematic of the utter thoughtlessness and extremism of abolitionists that they characterize the most demanding and elaborate -- and the longest -- system of review known to the law, a system that starts with the unanimous judgment of a neutral jury and continues through years of review by a large assortment of state and federal judges, as a "mob with torches howling for execution."

Posted by: Bill Otis | Feb 8, 2014 1:44:01 PM

federalist --

I think this move by Kasich is easy to figure out. He's planning to run for President and playing to the press. Not much more to it than that.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Feb 8, 2014 1:48:06 PM

anon14--where is your evidence that this guy was NOT sedated at the time of death?

Without that--you are talking out of your crack.

Posted by: federalist | Feb 8, 2014 2:11:46 PM

I doubt Kasich is running for president. However, he is up for election in November. Eight months seems like an especially curious tineframe unless it os political.

My take on Kasich is that if it were up to him, we would not have executions in Ohio. He just hasn't stopped them yet, as he's bucked the conservative wing too much already.

Posted by: RK | Feb 8, 2014 3:14:23 PM

I expect this conversation will sound really quaint and stupid to those who dig it out a hundred years from now.

Posted by: Tom McGee | Feb 8, 2014 3:19:11 PM

Tom McGee --

You know zip about how this conversation will sound a hundred years from now -- which is exactly the same I or anyone else knows.

There are no facts about the future, and, when we're talking a hundred years in the future, there aren't even any good guesses.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Feb 8, 2014 8:12:40 PM

I am coming around to the notion that if we as The People are going to kill humans that we should do so with some dignity. I don't think that it is dignified to strap someone to a gurney and poke needles in them and inject poisons in them until they die. Why not shoot them? The firing squad is dignified. They wont go through that undignified routine of being strapped down and needled to death. About six bullets to the head is less painful and more dignified that the needle. We should be required to read them their Last Rights. That includes warning them that what they say at the Pearly Gates when they meet their maker, can and will be used against them in the decision to send them to heaven, hell or limbo. I also think that God will judge us for how, why and how often we kill other humans in the name of The People of the State of _____. If you do not believe in God and the Sixth Commandment then ignore my statements.

Posted by: Liberty1st | Feb 8, 2014 11:42:47 PM

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