A death row inmate who was executed by the state of Ohio on Thursday with an untried and untested combination of two medical drugs appeared to gasp and snort in a procedure that took an unusually long 25 minutes to kill him.
Dennis McGuire was pronounced dead at 10.53am at the Southern Ohio Correctional facility in Lucasville. His lawyers had warned ahead of the proceeding that the experimental combination of the sedative midazolam and painkiller hydromorphone might subject him to “air hunger”, an insufficient flow of air into the lungs causing the sensation of suffocation.
In court proceedings last week, an Ohio state prosecutor said bluntly: “You’re not entitled to a pain-free execution,” and a judge allowed the execution to proceed.
That prosecutor has a future in politics.
By the way, there’s a shortage of midazolam (trade name Versed), but Florida and Ohio are stockpiling it because they can no longer buy the preferred execution drug, pentobarbital, from European manufacturers. One execution uses enough Versed to treat 100 patients.