COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio executions have been put on hold for 2 1/2 months after a federal judge said he wanted to hear arguments over the state’s new lethal injection procedures.
The temporary order delays executions scheduled for July and August while attorneys prepare filings about the state’s decision to boost the dosages of its lethal injection drugs.
The one-page order by Columbus federal judge Gregory Frost on Tuesday affects the state’s latest death penalty policy change, which was announced in late April. Ohio uses two drugs injected simultaneously in executions. The policy change considerably increases the amount of the sedative and raises the amount of the painkiller.
The procedure update followed the Jan. 16 execution of Dennis McGuire, who repeatedly gasped during the record 26 minutes it took him to die.
The state said in April it was making the changes “to allay any remaining concerns” after McGuire’s execution, though it stood by the way McGuire was put to death.
The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction said its review of McGuire’s execution determined he was asleep and unconscious a few minutes after the drugs were administered and his execution was conducted in a constitutional manner.
“He did not experience pain, distress or air hunger after the drugs were administered or when the bodily movements and sounds occurred,” the state said.
Frost’s order delays the July 2 execution of Ronald Phillips, sentenced to die for the rape and death of Sheila Marie Evans, his girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter, in Akron in 1993. Phillips’ last execution date was also delayed as he unsuccessfully requested to donate organs to his family members.
The order also delays the Aug. 6 execution of William Montgomery, who shot 20-year-old Debra Ogle and her 19-year-old roommate Cynthia Tincher on or around March 8, 1986.