COLUMBUS — There will be no executions in Ohio in 2015.
Amid litigation and more changes in how the state carries out lethal injections, Gov. John Kasich today issued a broad swath of reprieves that would delay all six of the executions that had been scheduled for this year.
Among them was William Montgomery, who was convicted in the 1986 murders of two Toledo roommates and had been scheduled to die on Sept. 17. His execution is now set for Aug. 15, 2016.
Ohio has not carried out an execution since January of 2014 when Dennis McGuire, of Montgomery County, became the sole inmate to die via a two-drug process that has since been scrapped. Witnesses had described McGuire as struggling against his restraints and making choking sounds after the drugs began to flow.
A federal court moratorium on executions in Ohio expired two weeks ago, and the inmate next in line was Ronald Phillips, of Summit County, on Feb. 11. But that will be delayed until Jan. 21, 2016.
A new state law that has yet to take effect has been challenged in court. Designed to make it easier for the state to acquire its execution drug of choice, the powerful sedative pentobarbital, the law dangles at least temporary anonymity to compounding pharmacies that would agree to manufacture the drug from scratch now that its European commercial maker has refused to make it available for execution purposes.
The state Department of Rehabilitation and Correction recently announced that it was dropping the two-drug protocol used to put McGuire to death. The state had used intravenous overdoses of midazolam, a powerful barbiturate, and hydromorphone, a narcotic painkiller.
The state’s new plan is to fall back again on single overdoses of pentobarbital or its former preferred drug, the short-acting barbiturate thiopental sodium, assuming they can find supplies of either.
The 2015 delays will also have a domino effect on executions scheduled for 2016. The only other northwest Ohioan for whom an execution date had been set, Cleveland R. Jackson, remains scheduled for July 20, 2016. Jackson is one of two men who opened fire on eight people cornered in a Lima apartment kitchen in 2002, killing two girls ages 3 and 17.
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