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Ohio inmate who survived execution attempt dies of 'probable' COVID-19

Ohio inmate who survived execution attempt dies of 'probable' COVID-19
Romell Broom, 64, was convicted of kidnapping, raping and killing a 14-year-old girl, Tryna Middleton, in East Cleveland in 1984. File Photo courtesy of Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction

Dec. 30 (UPI) -- An Ohio death row inmate who survived a botched execution attempt in 2009 died this week of suspected COVID-19, the state's corrections department said Wednesday.

Romell Broom, 64, died Monday at Franklin Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio. He had been incarcerated at the Chillicothe Correctional Institution prior to his hospitalization.

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"As of today, his death is considered a probable COVID-19 related death, pending his death certificate," said Sara French, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

Broom was scheduled to be executed March 16, 2022, for the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl, Tryna Middleton, in East Cleveland in 1984.

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Prison officials spent more than 2 hours in September 2009 sticking Broom at least 18 times with needles trying to find a vein for an IV line to administer lethal injection drugs. After they failed to find a vein, officials returned to him to a jail cell to await a second attempt at an execution.

In June, a federal appeals court declined to stop the state from attempting to execute him a second time. The justices said he wasn't protected by the 5th Amendment of the Constitution, which prohibits a person from being punished twice for the same crime -- a clause known as "double jeopardy."

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The court also declined Broom's challenge based on the 8th Amendment, which protects against cruel and unusual punishment. The three-judge panel agreed with the Ohio Supreme Court's ruling, that Broom isn't likely to "suffer severe pain" during a second execution attempt "because the state has since amended its execution protocols ... and has executed numerous prisoners under those revamped protocols."

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Broom isn't the first prisoner or death row inmate to die of the novel coronavirus since the start of the pandemic earlier this year. Hundreds of thousands of inmates across the country have been infected.

Two federal death row inmates scheduled for execution next month have tested positive for the virus, and their lawyers have asked for stays of execution.

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