On Thursday, Ohio executed its first death row inmate using a new two-drug procedure. Ohio became the first state to use the new method on 53-year-old Dennis McGuire. McGuire was convicted in 1994 for killing a pregnant woman, Joy Stewart, in 1989.
Ohio had to find a new method of execution due to the limited supply of pentobarbital. The new two-drug method uses a mixture of a sedative called midazolam a pain killer called hydromorphone. McGuire had previously asked for a stay of execution because the new drug combination had never been used in the United States, and it was rumored to cause extreme pain. However, the court denied his request, and the execution remained scheduled for Thursday.
It appears that the rumors may have been true, as McGuire was seen gasping for air and struggling for approximately fifteen minutes after the drugs were injected. McGuire was officially declared dead at 10:53 a.m. Thursday.
With his last words, McGuire thanked the family of Stewart for a letter they had sent him, and said "I'm sorry." He then addressed his family that included his two children. “To my children I love you,” he said to his son and daughter. “I’m going to heaven, I’ll see you there when you come.” He yelled “I love you” around 10:29 a.m. right as the drugs started kicking in. "Oh, my God," his daughter, Amber McGuire, said as she watched her father's final struggle.
After witnessing their father's death, McGuire's children decided to file a lawsuit regarding the way their father was executed. "All citizens have a right to expect that they will not be treated or punished in a cruel and unusual way," defense attorney Jon Paul Rion said. "Today's actions violated that constitutional expectation."
Allen Bohnert, McGuire's attorney, called McGuire's death "a failed, agonizing experiment" and then added: "The people of the state of Ohio should be appalled at what was done here today in their names."
"We have forgiven him, but that does not negate the need for him to pay for his actions," Stewart's family said in a statement following the execution.
Image via NDN