Doctor approves of ill inmate sitting up during execution

An undated photo of Alva Campbell. (Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction via AP)
An undated photo of Alva Campbell. (Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction via AP)

Columbus - Allowing a condemned killer with health problems to partially sit up during his execution next month would be a "reasonable" accommodation, according to a doctor working for Ohio's prison system.

Death row inmate Alva Campbell became mildly agitated when officials tried lowering him to a normal execution position in an October 19 test, according to a medical review by Dr James McWeeney, a contractor for the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

McWeeney noted there were no objective findings such as increased pulse rate or breathing to corroborate Campbell's anxiety.

"Nevertheless, given the events observed at this examination and the patient's underlying pulmonary and mental health disorders, it would be reasonable to make an accommodation for the patient during the execution process that would permit him to lie in a semi-recumbent position," the doctor wrote.

McWeeney also said he couldn't find veins suitable for inserting an IV on either of Campbell's arms.

In 2009, problems placing an IV in the arms of death row inmate Romell Broom led to the cancellation of the execution after almost two hours and 18 needle sticks. Broom remains on death row, arguing in court the state shouldn't be allowed a second attempt to execute him.

Campbell is scheduled to die on November 15 for fatally shooting teenager Charles Dials during a 1997 carjacking.

Campbell, 69, has severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder as the result of a decadeslong two-pack-a-day smoking habit that finally stopped nine years ago, the doctor said.

Campbell's attorneys also say he uses a walker, relies on an external colostomy bag, requires four breathing treatments a day and may have lung cancer.

Campbell's health problems "could create a spectacle of a terminally ill man, with tourniquets on his arms and legs, being stabbed repeatedly to no avail", defence attorney David Stebbins said Monday.

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