McGuire execution sparks anti-death penalty bills in Ohio

Dennis McGuire, who was executed by the state of Ohio on Jan. 16, 2014, for the rape and murder of a pregnant woman in 1989.
AP Photo/Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Democrats state legislators are pushing for changes regarding the death penalty in Ohio after inmate Dennis McGuire gasped and convulsed violently during his execution last week which involved the use of a two-drug method for the first time in the United States.  

State Sen. Edna Brown has called for an immediate suspension of the death penalty in the state and said she plans to introduce legislation to abolish it altogether, reports

State Rep. Bob Hagan also recently announced his plan to introduce a bill that would require the governor and the state’s prisons chief to be present during all future executions in Ohio, according to the news site.

Both bills came on the heels of McGuire’s Jan. 16 execution. The 53-year-old McGuire, who was sentenced to death for raping and fatally stabbing a 22-year-old pregnant woman to death in 1989, took 26 minutes to die – making it the longest execution of the 53 carried out in Ohio since capital punishment resumed there 15 years ago, according to an Associated Press analysis.

Sen. Brown said the circumstances of McGuire’s death were appalling, reports

"This flawed execution reinforces my belief that the death penalty is an outdated method of punishment that has no place in civilized society," she said.

Prison officials gave McGuire intravenous doses of two drugs, the sedative midazolam and the painkiller hydromorphone, to put him to death. The method was adopted after supplies of a previously used drug dried up because the manufacturer declared it off limits for capital punishment.

Following McGuire’s execution, his family announced they plan to file a lawsuit over his death, which they say was unconstitutional.

Prior to the controversial execution, a House bill was proposed last month by Cleveland-area Democratic Reps. Dan Ramos of Lorain and Nickie Antonio to abolish the death penalty in Ohio. The bill, which would substitute capital punishment with life imprisonment, is scheduled to come before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, reports

The next execution in Ohio is scheduled for March 19 and it's almost certain lawyers will use the McGuire execution to try to stop it, reports the Associated Press.