Judge won't stop Ohio execution by untried drugs

2014-01-13 21:55

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Columbus - A US judge has refused to stop the execution of an Ohio man by a never-tried execution method that the man's attorneys allege will cause him agony and terror.

Monday's ruling moves condemned killer Dennis McGuire one step closer to execution on Thursday. The state's two-drug method developed after supplies of Ohio's former execution drug, pentobarbital, ran out as its manufacturer put it off limits for executions.

McGuire's attorneys argue the drugs won't properly sedate McGuire and he'll suffer a syndrome known as air hunger as he struggles to breathe. The state disputes such a scenario. The judge said McGuire had failed to present evidence that he would suffer the breathing problems.

The US Constitution bars cruel and unusual punishment, but that doesn't mean execution procedures must be entirely comfortable, Thomas Madden, an assistant Ohio attorney general, told the judge on Friday.

"You're not entitled to a pain-free execution," Madden said.

The combination of drugs Ohio intends to use has never been used in a US execution.

"The law teaches that Ohio is free to innovate and to evolve its procedures for administering capital punishment," the judge said.

McGuire, 53, has also asked the US Supreme Court to stop the execution, arguing a jury never got to hear the full extent of his chaotic and abusive childhood.

Governor John Kasich and the Ohio Parole Board have both rejected McGuire's plea for clemency.

McGuire was convicted for the 1989 rape and fatal stabbing of Joy Stewart.

A message was left with his attorneys seeking comment.

Ohio's Department of Rehabilitation and Correction plans to use a dose of midazolam, a sedative, combined with hydromorphone, a painkiller, to put McGuire to death.

In the past, other death row inmates have challenged Ohio's lethal drugs on the grounds that they might suffer a severe allergic reaction or were too obese to be put to death humanely.

Other death penalty states are being challenged by drug supply shortages.

Missouri gave up attempts to use propofol over concerns the move could create a shortage of the popular anaesthetic if the European Union, which opposes the death penalty, restricted its export.

In Georgia, the state's attempt to use a non-federally regulated dose of pentobarbital is the subject of a lawsuit.

- AP
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