An Ohio killer appeared to gasp several times as a previously unused combination of drugs was used to execute him.
It took almost 25 minutes for Dennis McGuire to die after doses of two drugs, the sedative midazolam and the painkiller hydromorphone, were used in the lethal injection. It was one of the longest executions since Ohio resumed capital punishment in 1999.
McGuire was put to death for the 1989 rape and fatal stabbing of Joy Stewart, who was 30 weeks pregnant at the time of her murder. At 22, Stewart was a newlywed.
Some of Stewart’s family members were present to watch the execution. Responding to the ire surrounding the incident, they released a statement saying McGuire suffered far less than Stewart had the night of her death: “There has been a lot of controversy regarding the drugs that are to be used in his execution, concern that he might feel terror, that he might suffer. As I recall the events preceding her death, forcing her from the car, attempting to rape her vaginally, sodomizing her, choking her, stabbing her, I know she suffered terror and pain. He is being treated far more humanely than he treated her.”
McGuire’s lawyers attempted to block his execution last week, warning that the untried drug cocktail could lead to a medical problem called “air hunger,” making the victim unable to absorb oxygen.
Many states are developing new lethal injection cocktails after European drug manufacturers stopped selling drugs for use in executions.
The injection formula had been approved for use by a federal court.