EXECUTION 2017

No Second Chances: What to Do After a Botched Execution


November  18, 2017

The pathos and problems of America’s death penalty were vividly on display yesterday when Ohio tried and failed to execute Alva Campbell. Immediately after its failure Gov. John Kasich set June 5, 2019, as a new execution date.

This plan for a second execution reveals a glaring inadequacy in the legal standards governing botched executions in the United States.

Campbell was tried and sentenced to die for murdering 18-year-old Charles Dials during a carjacking in 1997. After Campbell exhausted his legal appeals, he was denied clemency by the state parole board and the governor.

By the time the state got around to executing Campbell, he was far from the dangerous criminal of 20 years ago. As is the case with many of America’s death-row inmates, the passage of time had inflicted its own punishments.

The inmate Ohio strapped onto the gurney was a 69-year-old man afflicted with serious ailments, including lung cancer, COPD and respiratory failure. Campbell has had prostate cancer and a hip replacement. He needs daily oxygen treatments, uses a walker and is tethered to a colostomy bag.

Ohio officials were so aware of Campbell’s breathing problems that they provided a wedge-shaped pillow to raise his head, so he could breathe more easily as it set about to end his life.

Officials had been warned about the difficulty of finding a usable vein, and the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction had problems finding Campbell’s veins during a recent exam.

Nonetheless, the state went ahead with his execution.

On Wednesday, the execution team tried four different places in Campbell’s arms and right leg to insert the needle through which to administer lethal drugs. After 30 minutesit stopped the execution and returned Campbell to death row.

Stopping an execution before it is completed is quite unusual, even if serious problems occur during the procedure. Those serious problems are not rare: Approximately 3 percent of American executions were botched during the 20th century, and 7 percent of lethal injections have been botched since its first use in 1982.

But Campbell’s was one of the very few executions to be halted since the mid-1940s.

The first of those was Louisiana’s botched electrocution of Willie Francis, in which the current of electricity was not sufficient to kill him.

The second time an execution was stopped in mid-course occurred in Ohio during the 2009 effort to put Romell Broom to death. The execution team could not find a usable vein. After two hours of repeatedly poking and stabbing Broom’s arms and legs, they gave up.

In April 2014, when Oklahoma tried to execute Clayton Lockett, officials also had problems finding a usable vein. They finally inserted the needle into a vein in his groin. When the lethal drugs were administered, Lockett struggled violently: The needle had dislodged from the vein into a muscle. Ultimately the execution was stopped before Lockett was killed. Sometime later he died of a heart attack while still strapped to the gurney.

Lockett’s death was one of the more gruesome in America’s history of botched executions, but it spared the state an ethical and legal question that faced officials in the Francis and Broom cases, and now faces Ohio officials who failed to execute Campbell. What should be done with him?

Should the state, having failed in its first execution attempt, be able to try again? Are we well served when we force the condemned to undergo the psychological torture of having to prepare to die, only to have to relive the experience of execution a second time?

The courts bent over backward to permit a second execution in the Francis and Broom cases. In the former, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the state would only be barred from going through with a second execution if it had intentionally botched the first. Even if the state were careless or negligent in its first execution attempt, the court said, it could still proceed with another. The state of Louisiana went ahead and put Francis to death.

In March 2016, the Ohio Supreme Court rejected an appeal by Broom to stop his second execution. The court reaffirmed the Francis precedent and added that since the lethal chemicals had not begun to flow when his execution was halted, his “punishment” had not really begun. The United States Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal that a second execution would constitute double jeopardy and cruel and unusual punishment. Broom awaits his execution date on Ohio’s death row.

The fine legalisms of the Francis and Broom decisions give the state too much room for error in the serious business of putting someone to death. If the state is going to kill, it should have the burden of getting it right the first time. The law should allow no second chances.

I say this not out of sympathy for those whose heinous acts bring them to the death chamber, but because how a society punishes reveals its true character. Punishment tells us who we are.

When we punish cruelly we create “a class of punishers whose lives are wasted and their characters depraved so that as citizens they become almost as undesirable as the criminals they torture.”

Those are the words of a playwright, George Bernard Shaw, and, as Ohio considers what to do with Campbell, it should heed his warning. Ohio failed to execute Alva Campbell, despite all the warning signs of the risk of failure because of his weakened physical state. Now, Ohio’s citizens and public officials should be careful, lest in their eagerness to try a second time, they “become almost as undesirable” as the murderer they seek to execute.

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Stays of Execution 2017



Date of Scheduled Execution State Prisoner Reason for Stay
January
11 OH Anthony Kirkland Stay granted by Ohio Supreme Court on October 16, 2014 “pending disposition of available state remedies …. It is further ordered that this stay shall remain in effect until exhaustion of all state post-conviction proceedings, including any appeals.”
12 OH James Hanna Reprieve granted by Gov. John Kasich because Ohio did not have execution drugs.^^
12 OH Ronald Phillips Stay granted by magistrate judge in U.S. District Court on December 19, 2016 to permit litigation of challenge to Ohio lethal injection protocol; on December 21, 2016, governor then rescheduledexecution for February 15, 2017.
23 OR Gary Haugen Reprieve in place, Gov. John Kitzhaber imposed a moratorium on all executions in Oregon. Current Gov. Kate Brown has requested a report on the status of the death penalty and indicated the report will inform future policy decisions.
25 TX Kosoul Chanthakoummane Execution date rescheduled to July 19, 2017.
February
2 TX John Ramirez Stay granted by U.S. District Court on January 31, 2017 to permit new counsel to file a petition seeking clemency for Ramirez. On February 1, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit deniedthe Texas Attorney General’s motion to vacate the District Court’s stay order.
7 TX Tilon Lashon Carter Stay granted by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on February 3, 2017 on a 5-4 vote. The Court ruled that Texas had failed to timely serve the death warrant upon the Texas Office of Capital and Forensic Writs.
15 OH Ronald Phillips Stay granted by U.S. District Court magistrate judge on January 26, 2017 as part of preliminary injunction order declaring Ohio’s execution protocol unconstitutional. Then rescheduled for May 10, 2017 by Gov. John Kasich on February 10, 2017.*
19 OH Ramond Tibbetts Stay granted by U.S. District Court magistrate judge on December 19, 2016 to permit litigation of challenge to Ohio lethal injection protocol; on December 21, 2016, Gov. John Kasich rescheduledexecution for April 12, 2017.
March
2 PA Wayne Smith Stay granted by U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on January 25, 2017 to provide Smith to vindicate his right to pursue state and federal post-conviction challenges to his conviction and sentence that are available to all criminal defendants.
3 PA Richard Poplawski Stay granted by the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas on February 17, 2017 to provide Poplawski the opportunity to pursue state post-conviction challenges to his conviction and sentence that are available to all criminal defendants.
4 PA Aric Woodard Stay granted by the York County Court of Common Pleas on February 9, 2017 to provide Woodard the opportunity to pursue state post-conviction challenges to his conviction and sentence that are available to all criminal defendants.
6 PA Patrick Haney Stay granted by U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania on February 8, 2017 to provide Haney the opportunity to pursue state and federal post-conviction challenges to his conviction and sentence that are available to all criminal defendants.
15 OH Gary Otte Stay granted by U.S. District Court magistrate judge on January 26, 2017 as part of preliminary injunction order declaring Ohio’s execution protocol unconstitutional. Then rescheduled for June 13, 2017 by Gov. John Kasich on February 10, 2017.*
22 OH Jeremiah Jackson Stay granted by Ohio Supreme Court until exhaustion of all state post-conviction proceedings.
April
12 OH Ramond Tibbetts Stay granted by U.S. District Court magistrate judge on January 26, 2017 as part of preliminary injunction order declaring Ohio’s execution protocol unconstitutional. Then rescheduled for July 26, 2017 by Gov. John Kasich on February 10, 2017.*
12 TX Paul Storey Stay granted by Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
17 AR Bruce Ward Stay granted by the Arkansas Supreme Court on April 14 to permit counsel to litigate whether Ward is mentally competent to be executed. Temporary restraining order granted by Pulaski County court on April 14 in litigation brought by pharmaceutical company seeking to bar Arkansas from using vecuronium bromide in scheduled execution. Restraining order lifted by Arkansas Supreme Court. Stay granted by the Arkansas Supreme Court on April 17 pending decision by the United States Supreme Court in McWilliams v. Dunn on questions concerning the right to an independent mental health expert that may affect the resolution of similar issues in Ward’s case.
17 AR Don Davis Temporary restraining order granted by Pulaski County court on April 14 in litigation brought by pharmaceutical company seeking to bar Arkansas from using vecuronium bromide in scheduled execution. Restraining order lifted by Arkansas Supreme Court. Stay granted by the Arkansas Supreme Court on April 17 pending decision by the United States Supreme Court in McWilliams v. Dunn on questions concerning the right to an independent mental health expert that may affect the resolution of similar issues in Davis’s case.
20 AR Stacey Johnson Temporary restraining order granted by Pulaski County court on April 14 in litigation brought by pharmaceutical company seeking to bar Arkansas from using vecuronium bromide in scheduled execution. Restraining order lifted by Arkansas Supreme Court. Stay issued by Arkansas Supreme Court on April 19 to allow hearing on postconviction DNA testing.
25 VA Ivan Teleguz Death sentence commuted by Gov. Terry McAuliffe on April 20 to life in prison, with no chance for parole.
27 AR Jason McGehee Preliminary inunction granted by U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas staying McGehee’s execution until Arkansas Parole Board complies with 30-day period for public comment on its 6-1 recommendation for clemency and Gov. Asa Hutchinson decides whether to issue clemency.
May
10 OH Alva Campbell, Jr. Execution rescheduled for September 13, 2017 by Gov. John Kasich on February 10, 2017.*
10 OH Ronald R. Phillips Execution rescheduled for July 26, 2017 by Gov. John Kasich on May 1, 2017.**
17 OH Donald Ketterer Stay granted by Ohio Supreme Court until exhaustion of all state post-conviction proceedings.
16 TX Tilon Carter Stay granted by Texas Court of Criminal Appealson May 12 to permit the court to consider claim that new evidence shows that Carter’s conviction was a product of scientifically erroneous and false forensic testimony that the victim had been smothered.
24 TX Juan Castillo Execution rescheduled for September 7, 2017.
June
13 OH William Montgomery Execution rescheduled for October 18, 2017 by Gov. John Kasich on February 10, 2017.*
13 OH Gary Otte Execution rescheduled for September 13, 2017 by Gov. John Kasich on May 1, 2017.**
28 TX Steven Long Execution rescheduled for August 30, 2017.
July
19 OH Mark Pickens Stay granted by Ohio Supreme Court until exhaustion of all state post-conviction proceedings.
19 TX Kosoul Chanthakoummane Stay granted by Texas Court of Criminal Appealson June 7, 2017, to review claims of discredited forensic science.
26 OH Robert Van Hook Execution rescheduled for November 15, 2017 by Gov. John Kasich on February 10, 2017.*
26 OH Raymond Tibbetts Execution rescheduled for October 18, 2017 by Gov. John Kasich on May 1, 2017.**
August
15 PA Omar Shariff Cash Stay granted by U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on June 28, 2017 to provide Cash the opportunity to pursue state and federal post-conviction challenges to his conviction and sentence that are available to all criminal defendants.
22 MO Marcellus Williams Stay granted by Governor Greitens on August 22, 2017. The Governor appointed a Gubernatorial Board of Inquiry to further consider Marcellus Williams’ request for executive clemency.
30 TX Steven Long Stay granted by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on August 21, 2017 to permit Long to re-litigate his claim of intellectual disability under Moore v. Texas. The Texas courts had previously denied his claim, applying the “Briseno factors” that were declared unconstitutional in Moore.
September
7 TX Juan Castillo On August 30, 2017, the Bexar County District Court granted the Bexar County District Attorney’s motion to withdraw Juan Castillo’s execution date. The request was made after Governor Abbott declared a state of disaster for 30 Texas counties because of Hurricane Harvey. The court also issued an order setting a new execution date for December 14, 2017.
13 OH Jeffrey A. Wogenstahl Stay granted by the Ohio Supreme Court on May 4, 2016 on motion to vacate execution date and to reopen direct appeal. Execution rescheduled for April 17, 2019 by Gov. John Kasich on February 10, 2017.*
13 OH Alva Campbell, Jr. Execution rescheduled for November 15, 2017 by Gov. John Kasich on May 1, 2017.**
26 GA Keith Tharpe Stay granted by the U.S. Supreme Court on September 26, 2017 “pending the disposition of [Tharpe’s] petition for a writ of certiorari” seeking review of a decision by the 11th Circuit denying him an appeal of his habeas corpus claim that his death sentence was unconstitutionally tainted by the participation of a racially biased juror.
October
5 AL Jeffrey Borden Injunction granted by U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit on September 29 staying Borden’s execution through October 19, 2017, but vacated by the U.S. Supreme Court on October 4. Stay grantedby U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama on October 5, 2017
18 OH Melvin Bonnell Rescheduled for April 11, 2018 by Gov. John Kasich on February 10, 2017.*
18 OH William Montgomery Rescheduled for January 3, 2018 by Gov. John Kasich on May 1, 2017.**
18 OH Raymond Tibbetts Rescheduled for February 13, 2018 by Gov. John Kasich on September 1, 2017.^
18 TX Anthony Shore 90-day stay of execution granted by Harris County trial court to permit prosecutors to investigate claim that Shore was colluding with another death-row prisoner to confess to the murder in that case. Execution rescheduled for January 18, 2018.
19 AL Torrey McNabb Injunction granted by U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama on October 16, 2017 astaying McNabb’s execution, and affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit on October 18. Injunction vacated by U.S. Supreme Court on October 19, 2017 and stay lifted. EXECUTED.
26 TX Clifton Lee Young Stay granted by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on October 18, 2017 and evidentiary hearing ordered on Young’s claim that newly discovered evidence (gunshot residue on the gloves of the prosecution’s key witness and affidavits of four prisoners that this witness had bragged about committing the killing and framing Young) shows that his conviction and sentence were obtained with false or perjured testimony.
November
9 AR Jack Greene Stay granted by the Arkansas Supreme Court on November 7, 2017 on petition raising issue related to Arkansas procedures for determining competency to be executed.
14 NV Scott Dozier Stay granted by the Clark County District Court on November 9, 2017 to permit the prosecution to appeal its ruling barring the use of a paralytic drug in Nevada’s execution protocol.
15 OH Alva Campbell Gov. John Kasich called off the execution on November 15, 2017 after personnel of the Ohio Department of Corrections failed five times to find a suitable vein to insert an intravenous execution line.
15 OH Robert Van Hook Rescheduled for February 13, 2018 by Gov. John Kasich on May 1, 2017.**
16 TX Larry Swearingen Stay granted by trial court on October 27 because of clerk’s error in serving notice of execution.

EXECUTIONS CARRIED OUT 2016


Execution List 2016

Date Number
Since 1976
State Name Age Race Victim Race Method Drug Protocol Years From
Sentence To
Execution
1/7/16 1423 FL Oscar Ray Bolin Jr. 53 White 1 White Lethal Injection 3-drug (midazolam) 23
1/20/16 1424 TX Richard Masterson 43 White 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (Pentobarbital) 13
1/21/16 1425 AL Christopher Brooks 43 White 1 White Lethal Injection 3-drug (midazolam) 22
1/27/16 1426 TX James Freeman 35 White 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (Pentobarbital) 7
2/3/16 1427 GA Brandon Jones 72 Black 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (Pentobarbital) 36
2/16/16 1428 TX Gustavo Garcia 43 Latino 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (Pentobarbital) 24
2/17/16 1429 GA Travis Hittson 45 White 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (Pentobarbital) 22
3/9/16 1430 TX Coy Wesbrook 58 White 1 White, 1 Latino Lethal Injection 1-drug (Pentobarbital) 17
3/22/16 1431 TX Adam Ward 33 White 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (Pentobarbital) 8
3/31/16 1432 GA Joshua Bishop 41 White 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (Pentobarbital) 20
4/6/16 1433 TX Pablo Vasquez 38 Latino 1 Latino Lethal Injection 1-drug (Pentobarbital) 17
4/12/16 1434 GA Kenneth Fults 47 Black 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (Pentobarbital) 18
4/27/16 1435 GA Daniel Lucas 37 White 3 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (Pentobarbital) 16
5/11/16 1436 MO Earl Forrest 66 White 3 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (Pentobarbital) 11
7/15/16 1437 GA John Conner 60 White 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (Pentobarbital) 34
10/5/16 1438 TX Barney Ronald Fuller Jr.* 53 White 2 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (Pentobarbital) 12
10/19/16 1439 GA Gregory Paul Lawler 63 White 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (Pentobarbital) 16
11/16/16 1440 GA Steven Frederick Spears* 50 White 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (Pentobarbital) 9
12/6/16 1441 GA William Sallie 50 White 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (Pentobarbital) 25
12/8/16 1442 AL Ronald Bert Smith Jr. 45 White 1 White Lethal Injection 3-drug (midazolam) 21

The three-drug protocol typically begins with an anesthetic or sedative, followed by pancuronium bromide to paralyze the inmate and potassium chloride to stop the inmate’s heart. The first drug used varies by state and is listed above for each execution.

ƒ female
* volunteer – an inmate who waived ordinary appeals that remained at the time of his or her execution
~ foreign national
¥ white defendant executed for murder of black victim

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