Ohio to boost dose of lethal injection drugs after inmate’s ‘last gasps’

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 April, 2014, 10:29pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 April, 2014, 11:52pm

Ohio is boosting the dosages of its lethal injection drugs after the execution of an inmate who made snorting and gasping sounds that led to a civil rights lawsuit by his family and calls for a moratorium.

The state's new policy announced on Monday considerably increases the amount of the sedative used in its two-drug combination and raises the amount of painkillers, which are injected simultaneously, according to a court filing.

The state said it was making the changes "to allay any remaining concerns" after the last execution.

The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction said its review of the January 16 execution of Dennis McGuire 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.

The department said it "finds no harm in increasing the dosage levels of its drugs", after consulting with its medical expert and examining other states' practices, spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said.

The state's policy change comes 30 days before the next scheduled execution on May 28, when a man convicted of killing a Cleveland produce vendor in 1983 is set to die.

McGuire's fitful 26-minute execution was the longest since Ohio resumed putting inmates to death in 1999. His adult children complained it amounted to torture. His son said: "Nobody deserves to go through that."