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Monday, October 5, 2009

COURTS, STRICKLAND HALT EXECUTIONS, FOR NOW

Posted By on Mon, Oct 5, 2009 at 5:17 PM

Broom
  • Broom
Critics blasted Ohio's death penalty after last month's botched attempt to execute inmate Romell Broom. A federal appeals court on Monday echoed that criticism when it temporarily spared the life of inmate Lawrence Reynolds, the next man in line for execution.

Then Governor Ted Strickland went one step further and postponed a November execution of Cleveland man Darryl Durr. Strickland says the state will not go forward because prison officials are still developing back-up lethal injection procedures.

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, in a written opinion issued Monday, said there were "disturbing issues" to consider before executing Reynolds. A convicted murderer from Summit County, Reynolds was scheduled for execution Thursday in Lucasville.

“Given the important constitutional and humanitarian issues at stake in all death penalty cases, these problems in the Ohio lethal injection protocol are certainly worthy of meaningful consideration," the court wrote in its appeal.

The court pointed to the state's unsuccessful execution of Broom, which lasted for two hours as execution team members tried to find a vein in the inmate's arm. It was the first time an inmate survived execution by lethal injection, but the third time Ohio has struggled to cleanly put down a condemned inmate since lethal injections resumed in 1999.

The appeals court did not define a deadline for Reynold's stay, which presumably extends to November 30, when a federal judge will hear arguments from Broom's lawyers as they challenge the constitutionality and efficacy of Ohio's capital punishment apparatus. Ohio is the only state with a law that specifically calls for fast and painless executions.

Strickland moved Durr's date with the needle to next spring as prison officials seek a way to avoid another embarrassing episode in the death chamber. "While the [state prison department] has made progress, additional time is needed to fully conduct a thorough and comprehensive review of an alternative or back-up lethal injection protocol that is in accordance with Ohio law," Strickland said in a press release — Damian Guevara

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