Ohio Dept. of Rehabilitation and Correction

Ohio's Experimental Execution Blasted As Cruel, Prolonged

Witnesses say Dennis McGuire's execution using an untested drug cocktail took too long and caused unnecessary suffering.

By Matt Picht | January 16, 2014

The state of Ohio executed convicted murderer and rapist Dennis McGuire Thursday via lethal injection. But witnesses say an experimental cocktail of drugs used by the state may have caused McGuire unnecessary suffering.

"McGuire appeared to gasp loudly for air under these new drugs. He made several snorting or snoring sounds, and then convulsed for roughly ten minutes before dying." (Via CNN)

McGuire was convicted in 1994 of the rape and murder of 22-year-old Joy Stewart, who was seven months pregnant at the time. He was sentenced to death and confessed to the murder after his conviction. (Via WHIZ)

But a shortage of pentobarbital, the drug typically used in executions, forced Ohio to turn to a never-before-used combination of the sedative midazolam and the painkiller hydromorphone. (Via The Columbus Dispatch)

McGuire's lawyers tried to stay his execution, claiming the experimental procedure would be cruel and unusual punishment. But state officials successfully argued inmates are not entitled to a pain-free death.

Ohio's Director of Corrections told WDTN, "The execution will be humane. If I believed that it would not be, we would not be proceeding."

But media witnesses say McGuire's execution took much longer and seemed to cause more suffering than normal executions.

"A couple times he definitely appeared to be choking. ... I've never seen anything that lasted so long, and the shuddering, gasping, was so pronounced." (Via WRGT)

McGuire's family is planning to sue the state over the execution. One of his attorneys blasted the procedure as inhumane and appalling.

"At this point it is entirely premature to consider this execution protocol to be anything other than a failed, agonizing experiment by the state of Ohio." (Via WCMH)

But one lawyer told The New York Times McGuire's apparent suffering is being blown out of proportion. "The inmate does get a sedative as the very first thing. However distasteful it may be to observe, he is not in any kind of extreme pain that ought to concern us."

The new drug cocktail was originally supposed to be tested during the execution of convicted child murderer Ronald Phillips. But Phillips asked to donate organs after his death, and the state gave him an eight month reprieve to consider this request.

  TRENDING IN U.S. NEWS
A barbed-wire fence.WATCHLIST
 

Maryland's Senate Extends Voting Rights To All Ex-Convicts

A Chipotle employee prepares a burrito bowl.WATCHLIST
Getty Images / Joe Raedle

Lawyer Receives Hundreds Of Texts From Strangers Wanting Free Chipotle

With so many working to fix racial bias in adults, we spoke with a neuroscience researcher who says we may need to focus our attention on kids instead In this file photograph taken on March 20, 2007, a two-week-old boy finds his feet in his new world. Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt announced, April 3, 2007 that for the first time, mothers-to-be will have a guarantee that the NHS will provide them with a full range of birthing choices - including home births - and a midwife they know and trust to care for them. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)WATCHLIST
Getty Images / Christopher Furlong

Why Fixing Racial Biases Starts With Babies

Activist and Civil Rights Movement leader Diane Nash.WATCHLIST
Film Circuit / "Freedom Riders," Newsy / Connor Hickox

Diane Nash Talks Women And Civil Rights-Era Activism

A Native American at the annual Santa Fe Indian Market.WATCHLIST
Larry Lamsa / CC BY 2.0

Santa Fe Is The Vacay That Combines Culture With Outdoor Trendiness

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testifies before the Senate.WATCHLIST
Getty Images / Gabriella Demczuk

Intel Officials Warn ISIS Will Try To Attack US This Year

The Daily Show correspondent took on critics of Beyoncé's Super Bowl performance's political message.WATCHLIST
Comedy Central / Getty Images

'The Daily Show's' Jessica Williams Is Not Here For Your Beyoncé Shade

The South Lawn of the White House is prepared for a barbeque hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama on July 4, 2013, in Washington, DC.WATCHLIST
Getty Images / Ron Sachs

The White House Isn't Immune To The US' Internet Troubles

Marco Rubio speaks to supportersWATCHLIST
Newsy / Connor Hickox

Why Does Marco Rubio Want You To Call Him Bae?

Police accuse 22-year-old Jovaughn Walker of carrying out the attacks.WATCHLIST
WTVJ

Attacks Involving A Sword And Metal Pole Lead To Florida Man's Arrest

WTVF reports a Tennessee doctor accidentally performed a frenulectomy on the wrong infant.WATCHLIST
WTVF

Tennessee Doctor Performs Surgery On The Wrong Baby

Candles lit on a birthday cake.WATCHLIST
Will Clayton / CC By 2.0

'Happy Birthday' Song Will Be Public Domain, Judge Rules

A picture of the alligator that was thrown through a drive-thru window at a Florida Wendy's in October, as well as the man accused.WATCHLIST
WPTV

Man Accused Of Throwing Gator Through Wendy's Drive-Thru Is Arrested

Peyton Manning celebrates after winning Super Bowl 50WATCHLIST
Getty Images / Ezra Shaw

Why Does Peyton Manning Keep Mentioning Budweiser?

New York City SkylineWATCHLIST
Getty Images / Spencer Platt

How To Get The Most Bang For Your Buck In NYC

A sign sits in the window of a Chipotle restaurant on Broadway in Lower Manhattan telling customers the restaurant is closed until 3 p.m. on February 8, 2016 in New York City. The Mexican food chain is closing stores for lunch nationwide for a meeting on food safety following a number of E. coli outbreaks.WATCHLIST
Getty Images / Andrew Renneisen

Chipotle Closes For All-Employee Meeting, Gives Away Free Burritos

A woman tapping her foot.WATCHLIST
 

Serial Stomper Targeting Women's Feet In Austin, Texas

The Vince Lombardi Trophy in front of Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos helmetsWATCHLIST
Getty Images / Mike Lawrie

Not All Super Bowl Ads Are Funny; Some Had A Serious Message

Quintonio LeGrier's mother attends a vigil for her son.WATCHLIST
Getty Images / Scott Olson

Chicago Officer Sues Family Of Teen He Shot, Claims 'Emotional Trauma'

Daryush 'Roosh V' ValizadehWATCHLIST
Bartek Kucharczyk / CC BY SA 4.0

Donald Trump Gets A Not-So-Coveted Nod From Daryush 'Roosh' Valizadeh

Marchers walk down 5th Avenue during the 2014 Gay Pride March on June 29, 2014 in New York City.WATCHLIST
Getty Images / Eric Thayer

New York Is The Latest State With A Ban On LGBT Conversion Therapy

Dr. Larycia Hawkins speaking at a press conference.WATCHLIST
Mdiaz1436 / CC BY SA 4.0

Professor Who Stood With Muslims Parts Ways With Christian School

CocktailWATCHLIST
mariobonifacio / CC BY SA 2.0

People Who've Passed The Bar Are More Likely To Drink At The Bar

The mugshot for Leon Teague.WATCHLIST
Chicago Police Department

Cat Gets Doused With Boiling Water In Viral Video, Man Charged

Rescue workers search the waters off of the Los Angeles coast for three missing people.WATCHLIST
KGTV

2 Small Planes Collide Off LA Coast, 3 People Missing

Various types of fentanyl patches are pictured.WATCHLIST
Alcibiades

Fentanyl Abuse, Overdoses On The Rise In New Hampshire

The $18,000 gold bar is pictured next to a paper clip for scale.WATCHLIST
Bavarian Police

Lucky Teenager Gets To Keep $18,000 Bar Of Gold She Found

New York City Fire Department officials at the scene of the crane collapse in lower Manhattan.WATCHLIST
New York City Fire Department

Officials Investigating What Caused A NYC Crane To Collapse, Killing 1

Customers wait outside of a Denny's.WATCHLIST
Getty Images / Justin Sullivan

Denny's Settles Los Angeles Racial Discrimination Lawsuit

Image of Johnny Cash and the tarantula species named after him.WATCHLIST
Joel Baldwin / Chris Hamilton et al.

There's A Tarantula Species Named After Johnny Cash