Tuesday, Dec 06, 2016
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Judge extends moratorium on lethal injections

COLUMBUS — Four executions scheduled for the next five months have been placed on hold as a federal judge Monday extended his moratorium on the use of Ohio’s latest lethal injection process.

The state does not plan to appeal the order.

U.S. District Judge Gregory Frost in Columbus, in a one-page order, said more time is needed to gather information on Ohio’s two-drug protocol, most recently updated on April 28.

The moratorium will remain in effect through Jan. 15.

The order mentions no condemned inmates by name, but it has the effect of postponing the executions of:

● Ronald Phillips of Summit County, scheduled for Sept. 18.

● Raymond Tibbetts of Hamilton County, set for Oct. 15.

● Gregory Lott of Cuyahoga County, set for Nov. 19.

● Warren Henness of Franklin County, set for Jan. 7.

The Feb. 11 execution of William Montgomery, convicted in the 1986 murders of two Toledo roommates, is unaffected by the extended moratorium. That execution had already been delayed from Aug. 6 under Judge Frost’s original moratorium, issued after the problematic execution of Dennis McGuire, 53, of Montgomery County.

The McGuire execution in January marked the first time that any state used a combination of intravenous midazolam, a barbiturate, and hydromorphone, a potent painkiller, for an execution. Witnesses described McGuire as gasping for air and making loud snorting sounds during the 26 minutes after the drugs began to flow.

When Arizona recently used the same process, witnesses again described similar reactions.

An internal review by Ohio after the McGuire execution led to the decision to increase the dosages of both drugs, but that plan has yet to be used.

States have struggled to find an alternative to their preferred execution drug, the sedative pentobarbital, after its European manufacturer objected to its use in executions.

Rob Nichols, spokesman for Gov. John Kasich, said the governor was not expected to immediately set execution dates on Monday.

Montgomery, 48, was sentenced to death for the killings of Debra Ogle, 20, and Cynthia Tincher, 19. Ms. Ogle was killed during a robbery, and Ms. Tincher was later killed to prevent her from connecting Montgomery and accomplice Glover Heard, Jr., with Ms. Ogle.

The Ohio Parole Board is scheduled to preside over Montgomery’s request for clemency during a hearing on Jan. 20.

Contact Jim Provance at: jprovance@theblade.com or 614-221-0496.

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