ohio

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.

Advertisements

Ohio Planned to Import Death Penalty Drug Illegally


August 19, 2015

A letter from the FDA warned the state that importing the drug would break the law.

The state of Ohio planned to illegally import sodium thiopental, a drug used for executions, according to a Food and Drug Administration letter obtained byBuzzFeed through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The June letter says that Ohio planned to “obtain bulk and finished dosage forms of sodium thiopental.” Since the drug is not available in the US, wrote Domenic Veneziano, director of the FDA’s import operation, “we assume this product would be purchased from an oversees source.”

Veneziano reminded Ohio Director of Rehabilitation and Correction Gary C. Mohr that“there is no FDA approved application for sodium thiopental, and it is illegal to import an unapproved new drug into the United States.”

According to BuzzFeed:

The prison Ohio carries out executions in registered for a DEA license to import the drug last year for a “law enforcement purpose,” but until now it was unknown if the state actually intended to use the license.

Ohio, like many other death penalty states, shrouds its execution drug suppliers in secrecy. States argue the secrecy protects their suppliers from intimidation and embarrassment, while death row inmates and open government advocates argue it removes an important check on state power.

When Nebraska received a similar letter from the FDA last year, it came out that the state paid an Indian dealer named Chris Harris more than $50,000 for enough sodium thiopental to execute hundreds of prisoners. (Nebraska has since abolished the death penalty completely.)

BuzzFeed followed up with Ohio corrections department to find out if Harris was the planned supplier for Ohio as well.

When approached by BuzzFeed News about Harris in June, Ohio DRC spokesperson JoEllen Smith said the department’s legal division would have to handle the matter. After spending weeks on the request, she only would say that Ohio had not communicated with Harris’s company, Harris Pharma, but did not specifically answer the question of if the state had purchased from him directly or indirectly. Smith did not respond to follow up questions.

Ohio’s last execution took place in January 2014, when the state gave inmateDennis McGuire 10 milligrams of midazolam, a controversial sedative whose use for lethal injections the Supreme Court recently upheld. Ohio plans a new series of executions beginning in 2016.

Many reputable drug manufacturers don’t want to be associated with the death penalty, much less the botched executions that have prevailed of late. The FDA-approved manufacturer of sodium thiopental stopped making the drug in 2011 so that it couldn’t be used for this purpose. When Missouri announced plans to use propofol, the drug found in Michael Jackson’s body at the time of his death, for executions, its German manufacturer expressed displeasure and threatened to get the European Union to stop exporting it the US completely. Many states are now struggling to find the drugs they need for executions.

This fact is compounded in Ohio, whose governor, Republican presidential candidate John Kasich, signed a “secret executions” bill this winter that exempts anyone participating in a lethal injection from public records requests. Under the law, medical and nonmedical staff, companies transporting or preparing supplies or equipment used in executions, and providers of the drugs used in lethal injections are all protected from public records requests and do not need to reveal their identity or duties.

UPCOMING EXECUTIONS 2015, UPDATE


UPTADE AUGUST 29, 2015

Month State Inmate
August
13 TX Tracy Beatty – STAYED
18 TN David Miller – STAYED
26 TX Bernardo Tercero (foreign national) STAYED
27 MS Richard Jordan (date requested by Atty. Gen.; not final) EXECUTION HALTED
27 PA Maurice Patterson – STAY LIKELY
28 PA Hector Morales- STAY LIKELY
September
1 MO Roderick Nunley EXECUTED 9:09 PM
2 TX Joe Garza STAYED
3 PA Herbert Blakeney- STAY LIKELY
16 OK Richard Glossip
17 OH Angelo Fears – STAYED*
17 OH William Montgomery – STAYED^
29 TX Perry Williams
October
6 MO Kimber Edwards
6 TN Abu-Ali Abdur’Rahman – STAYED
6 TX Juan Garcia
7 OK Benjamin Cole
14 TX Licho Escamilla
28 OK John Grant
28 TX Christopher Wilkins
November
3 TX Julius Murphy
10 TX
Gilmar Guevara
17 OH Cleveland R. Jackson – STAYED*
17 OH Robert Van Hook – STAYED^
17 TN Nicholas Sutton – STAYED
18 TX Raphael Holiday

UPCOMING EXECUTIONS 2015, UPDATE


UPDATE JULY 10, 205


Month State Inmate
July
14 MO David Zink EXECUTED 7.41 PM
15 OH Alva Cambell, Jr. – STAYED*
15 OH Warren K. Henness – STAYED
16 TX Clifton Williams  STAYED
August
12 TX Daniel Lopez  executed
18 TN David Miller – STAYED
26 TX Bernardo Tercero
September
2 TX Joe Garza
16 OK Richard Glossip
17 OH Angelo Fears – STAYED*
17 OH William Montgomery – STAYED^
October
6 TN Abu-Ali Abdur’Rahman – STAYED
6 TX Juan Garcia
7 OK Benjamin Cole
11 TX Gilmar Guevara
14 TX Licho Escamilla
28 OK John Grant
28 TX Christopher Wilkins
November
17 OH Cleveland R. Jackson – STAYED*
17 OH Robert Van Hook – STAYED^
17 TN Nicholas Sutton – STAYED

US – UPCOMING EXECUTIONS MAY 2014


Dates are subject to change due to stays and appeals

April 23

May
13 TEXAS Robert Campbell
21 TEXAS Robert Pruett
21 MISSOURI Russell Bucklew
28 OHIO Arthur Tyler
29 TEXAS Edgardo Cubas (Foreign National) – STAYED

Arthur Tyler, slated to die May 28 in controversial capital case, asks Ohio for mercy


April 18, 2014

Arthur Tyler, who has been on Ohio’s death row 3 decades for the murder of a produce vendor during a robbery in Cleveland, has asked the Ohio Parole Board to commute his sentence to life in prison with a chance of parole.
The parole board will hold a clemency hearing April 24 to hear Tyler’s pleas. The board will make a recommendation to Gov. John Kasich, who will ultimately decide Tyler’s fate.
He is scheduled to be executed May 28.
Tyler’s case has been controversial because he was 1 of 2 people convicted in the killing of Sanders Leach, but the only one sentenced to die. And there are questions as to who actually pulled the trigger.
Tyler’s co-defendant, Leroy Head, confessed almost immediately. Head admitted to police, family and friends that he shot Leach in a struggle for the gun during the March 1983 robbery attempt, according to court records.
He signed a confession, but later changed his story, telling prosecutors that Tyler fired the gun.
Tyler was convicted of aggravated murder and aggravated robbery and sentenced to die. Head pleaded guilty to the same charges and was sentenced to prison. He was released in 2008.
Tyler’s lawyers, in a brief filed with the parole board, said Tyler recognizes he shares responsibility for Leach’s death. But they urge clemency be granted, commuting his death sentence to life imprisonment with parole eligibility.
“Ideally, Arthur Tyler should be granted parole and released from prison for time served, they wrote. “As we will demonstrate, Arthur Tyler did not shoot Mr. Leach. Head falsely testified against Mr. Tyler in order to save himself from the death penalty.”
Source: Cleveland.com,

OHIO – Man wrongfully sent to Death Row hopes court will reverse ruling – Dale Johnston


april 9, 2014

A Grove City man sentenced to death for a pair of Hocking County murders he did not commit is turning to the Ohio Supreme Court in his bid to be declared wrongfully imprisoned.

Dale Johnston has attempted for more than 20 years to win a court judgment so he could seek monetary damages for the seven years he spent on Death Row before being freed when an appellate court overturned his convictions.

He now is asking the justices to reverse a Feb. 20 ruling by the Franklin County Court of Appeals that threw out a trial-judge’s finding he was illegally detained for the 1982 dismemberment slayings of his stepdaughter and her fiancé.

The appellate judges ruled that the judge erred when he retroactively extended a 2003 change in the wrongful-imprisonment law to Johnston’s case.

Johnston and his lawyer are arguing the appellate ruling, sought by the office of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, misinterprets the law and asks the justices to rule in his favor.

“It may be safe to say that no reasonable person in the history of the world would or could review the facts surrounding these gruesome homicides and think anything other than Dale Johnston is and was an innocent man victimized by Ohio’s criminal justice system,” his lawyers wrote in their filing.

Johnston was sentenced to die in the electric chair in 1984 for the shooting deaths of Annette Cooper, 18, and Todd Schultz, 19, whose bodies were cut up and buried in a cornfield and thrown into the Hocking River.

In 2008, Chester McKnight, a drifter and drug addict, confessed to killing the couple and was sentenced to life imprisonment, freeing Johnston to again pursue his quest to be declared wrongfully imprisoned.

Ohio still adding to Death Row population


april 2, 2014

In the past decade, Ohio’s Death Row has shrunk by one-third, from 209 to 139.

But a new state report shows that the courts continue to sentence people to death at the same time the process of lethal injection is mired in legal controversy.

The 2013 Capital Crimes Report issued yesterday by Attorney General Mike DeWine says 12 executions are scheduled in the next two years, with four more awaiting the setting of death dates. Among those scheduled are three from Franklin County: Warren Henness (Jan. 7), Alva Campbell (July 7, 2015), and Kareem Jackson (Jan. 21, 2016).

Ohio has carried out 54 executions since 1999, including three last year, the same as in 2012.

The annual status report on capital punishment in Ohio, which covers calendar year 2013, does not mention the problems during the Jan. 16, 2014, execution of Dennis McGuire when he gasped, choked and struggled for more than 10 minutes before succumbing to a two-drug combination never before used in a U.S. execution.

A lawsuit has been filed by McGuire’s two children, and the drug issue prompted Gov. John Kasich to push back the scheduled March 19 execution of Gregory Lott until November.

The next scheduled execution is Arthur Tyler of Cuyahoga County on May 28.

DeWine’s report says 316 people have been sentenced to death in Ohio since 1981, when capital punishment was restored after being overturned as unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The report cites 18 gubernatorial commutations of death sentences: four by Kasich, five by Gov. Ted Strickland, one by Gov. Bob Taft and eight by Gov. Richard F. Celeste.

In all, 26 convicted killers have died in prison, including Billy Slagle of Cleveland, who committed suicide on Death Row on Aug. 4, 2013.

DeWine reported that 74 capital-punishment sentences were removed by the courts, and six, including Donna Roberts, the only woman currently sentenced to death in Ohio, are facing resentencing.

There have been 34 whites and 19 blacks executed, all males. They spent an average of 16.6 years in prison before being executed.

Of their 85 victims, 65 were adults and 19 were children. White victims outnumbered blacks 2-1.

For the first time this year, a group opposed to the death penalty issued its own report in response to the official state document. Ohioans to Stop Executions concludes, “While Ohio’s overall use of the death penalty is slowing, it has become clearer than ever before that the race of the victim and location of the crime are the most-accurate predictors of death sentences in the Buckeye State.”

The group said 40 percent of death sentences originate in Cuyahoga County. Ohio prosecutors filed 21 capital-murder indictments last year, a 28 percent drop from 2012, as sentences of life without the possibility of parole became more prevalent.

The full state report can be found online at http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Files/Publications/Publications-for-Law-Enforcement/Capital-Crimes-Annual-Reports/2013-Capital-Crimes-Annual-Report.

Us- Upcoming Executions march 2014


Dates are subject to change due to stays and appeals

UPDATE MARCH 20

Month State Inmate
19 OH Gregory Lott – Stayed
20 FL Robert Henry executed 6.16pm
20 OK Clayton Lockett – Stayed until April 22
26 MO Jeffrey Ferguson EXECUTED
26 MS Charles Crawford Stayed as execution date had not been affirmed by state court.
27 OK Charles Warner – Stayed until April 29
27 TX Anthony Doyle EXECUTED
27 MS Michelle Byrom Update – The Mississippi Supreme Court threw out Michelle Byrom’s murder conviction and death sentence and ordered a new trial due to numerous problems, including inadequate representation, critical evidence not presented to the jury, confessions by another defendant, and the prosecution’s lack of confidence in its own story of what actually happened.
March
19 OHIO Gregory Lott MOVED NOVEMBER 19
19 TEXAS Ray Jasper EXECUTED 6.31 PM
20 OKLAHOMA Clayton Lockett DELAYED (drug shortage)
27 OKLAHOMA Charles Warner DELAYED (drug shortage)
27 TEXAS Anthony Doyle

OHIO – Kasich postpones March 19 execution – GREGORY LOTT


february 7, 2014

Gov. John Kasich has postponed the scheduled March 19 execution of Gregory Lott because of lingering concerns about the drugs used in the lethal injection of Dennis McGuire last month.

Kasich this afternoon used his executive clemency power to move Lott’s execution to Nov. 19.

While the governor did not cite a reason, Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said he wanted to give the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction time to complete its internal review of McGuire’s Jan. 16 execution. “Gregory Lott committed a heinous crime for which he will be executed,” Nichols said.

During his Jan. 16 execution, McGuire, 53, gasped, choked and clenched his fists, all the while appearing to be unconscious, for at least 10 minutes after the lethal drugs – 10 mg of midazolam, a sedative, and 40 mg of hydromorphone, a morphine derivative – flowed into his body. The drugs had never been used together for an execution.

Attorneys for Lott, 51, are challenging his execution, complaining the drugs could cause “unnecessary pain and suffering” in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. A hearing has been scheduled for Feb. 19 in the U.S. District Judge Gregory L. Frost’s court.

Lott, 51, was convicted and sentenced to death for killing John McGrath, 82, by setting him on fire in his Cleveland-area home in 1986. McGrath survived in a hospital for 11 days before dying. Lott came close to execution in 2004, but the U.S. Supreme Court blocked it.

Kevin Werner, executive director of Ohioans to Stop Executions, praised Kasich for showing “leadership and careful consideration” by issuing a temporary reprieve.