COLUMBUS — Republican Gov. John Kasich on Friday granted an eight-month reprieve to a condemned killer following last month’s execution of an inmate who repeatedly gasped in the state’s longest lethal-injection procedure.
The ruling by Kasich delays until Nov. 19 the execution of Gregory Lott, sentenced to die for setting an 82-year-old man on fire during a break-in and leaving him to die.
Attorneys for Lott have sued in federal court to stop his execution, arguing the Ohio’s new two-drug combination puts him at risk of unnecessary pain and suffering. Lott’s attorneys also allege Ohio is breaking state and federal laws because it has obtained the drugs without a prescription.
The reprieve says only that “circumstances exist justifying the grant of a temporary reprieve.”
Death row inmate Dennis McGuire, during his 26-minute execution on Jan. 16, made repeated snorting sounds and opened and shut his mouth several times.
McGuire’s family sued the state, arguing the execution was cruel and inhumane. Initial reviews by the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction determined written procedures were followed and there is no need to change them.
The prisons agency is conducting a longer review looking at what happened during the execution.
“Gregory Lott committed a heinous crime for which he will be executed, and his execution is being moved to November 19 as DRC finishes its current review,” Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said.
Federal public defender Steve Ferrell, representing Lott, said he was happy with the news and glad the execution wasn’t being rushed.
A leading anti-death penalty group praised Kasich’s decision.
“The unanswered questions that arose during the execution of Dennis McGuire will require time to address,” said Kevin Werner, executive director of Ohioans to Stop Executions. “The governor’s actions today suggest he wants answers and is taking the appropriate steps while the investigation continues.”
Lott, 52, was sentenced to die for killing John McGrath by setting him on fire in his East Cleveland home in 1986. McGrath died in a hospital 11 days after the fire. Lott came within a few days of being executed in 2004 until federal courts allowed further appeals.
With Lott’s execution postponed, the next execution would come May 28, when Arthur Tyler is scheduled to die for killing a produce vendor in Cleveland during a 1983 robbery.
Lott’s reprieve isn’t the first Kasich has issued, and it’s no guarantee the execution won’t happen eventually.
Brett Hartman was executed on Nov. 13, 2012, about a year after Kasich granted a reprieve following a court decision that criticized Ohio’s execution process.
Billy Slagle was scheduled for execution last August after receiving a reprieve a year before, and he would have been put to death had he not committed suicide first.