Ohio postpones eight executions in lethal injection legal battle

By Amy R. Connolly  |  Feb. 11, 2017 at 8:51 AM
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Feb. 11 (UPI) -- Ohio Governor John Kasich delayed eight upcoming executions in response to a U.S. Court of Appeals review of Ohio's execution process and claims the state's lethal injection method is too painful to be legal.

Kasich said the court is not expected to rule in the case before the next scheduled execution, on Feb. 15 of a condemned child killer. On Jan. 26, the U.S. District Court stayed the first three scheduled executions in response to a challenge filed by Ohio death row inmates. Kasich said he is confident the state will prevail based on a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that upheld the use of midazolam in lethal injections, an anti-anxiety drug used before two others to administer a lethal dose.

Kasich said he plans to restart the execution schedule on May 10.

"These delays are necessary to allow the judicial process to come to a full resolution, and ensure that the state can move forward with the executions," Kasich said.

Executions have been put on hold in Ohio since January 2014, when the state used midazolam during the execution of Dennis McGuire, who appeared to gasp for breath in the 26 minutes until his death. Ohio law states drugs used during executions must "quickly and painlessly cause death."

Critics say midazolam doesn't render inmates deeply unconscious, possibly causing pain from the other two drugs that stop the breathing and the heart. It may be in violation of the constitutional protection from cruel and unusual punishment. States have not been able to obtain a substitute drug because pharmaceutical companies have stopped selling them to prisons for use in death sentences.

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