State: Inmate 'asleep' during his execution

By Marc KovacR-C Capital Bureau Published:

COLUMBUS -- State prison officials say an inmate was "asleep and not conscious" and "did not experience pain, distress or air hunger" during much of his execution earlier this year.

In a final report issued late Monday afternoon on the two-drug lethal injection of Dennis McGuire, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction determined the inmate's execution "was conducted in a constitutional manner" consistent with state policy.

Officials also said they would increase the dosage of the two drugs used to put Ohio inmates to death.

"After the review, the department remains confident that it conducted the execution in a humane, constitutional way and that the inmate was completely unconscious and felt no pain," prisons spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said in a released statement. "After speaking with the department's medical expert, examining other states' practices and considering the recommendations of the inmate's medical expert, the department finds no harm in increasing the dosage levels of its drugs and has notified Judge Frost of this revision."

McGuire was executed in January for the rape and murder of a pregnant woman in Preble County 25 years ago.

He became the first inmate executed using a new two-drug combination. The process took about 25 minutes and witnesses described him gasping for breath.

Initial reviews by state prison officials noted nothing out of the ordinary with McGuire's lethal injection, though they emphasized that a more thorough study was under way.

That review was completed Monday with the public release of a report detailing McGuire's execution.

The process included interviews with nearly 20 prison employees, family members and media representatives, plus reviews of McGuire's medical records and comments from a certified anesthesiologist.

DRC found that "the massive doses of drugs given to McGuire rendered him unconscious before any of the irregular bodily movements were observed. The bodily movements that were observed were consistent with the effects of the drugs, his obesity and other body characteristics, and involuntary muscle contractions associated with the ending of respiratory function. There is no evidence that McGuire experienced any pain, distress or anxiety."

The report later added, "DRC has concluded that the McGuire execution was properly conducted in a humane and dignified manner...."

Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at mkovac@dixcom.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.

Want to leave your comments?

Sign in or Register to comment.