Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club. Because No News is Bad News.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

DeWine Delays Three More Executions Due to Judge's Concern About Lethal Drugs

Posted By on Thu, Mar 7, 2019 at 12:47 PM

  • Thinkstock

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine today announced that three upcoming executions will now be delayed following a federal judge's concern over the state's three-drug protocol.

He previously delayed the execution of Warren Henness for the same reason. The next three — Cleveland Jackson, Kareem Jackson, and Gregory Lott — will also be tabled for now as Ohio seeks lethal drugs that would not cause "severe pain and needless suffering."

Background from our January report:

Following the troubled execution of Dennis McGuire in 2017, Ohio began using a new three-drug method. Under that protocol, the drug midazolam is first administered as a sedative. Then, the execution team injects the condemned with a powerful paralytic drug before giving a final dose of potassium chloride to stop the person’s heart.

The state has used the method three times. A scheduled fourth execution was delayed last year because executioners couldn’t successfully insert an IV. During the latest execution, condemned man Robert Van Hook wheezed and gasped before dying.

Critics of midazolam say it doesn’t sedate inmates fully, leading to horrible suffering. The two other drugs Ohio will use to execute prisoners cause excruciating pain as they kill if a person is conscious. Further, some medical experts say the 500 ml. dose of midazolam administered can itself cause a sensation similar to drowning or of fire in the veins, causing panic and pain.

Prior to the state resuming executions by putting convicted killer Ronald Phillips to death in 2017, some drug experts asked Ohio not to use midazolam. On July 24 that year, 15 pharmacology professors from universities across the U.S. filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in connection with the Phillips case requesting that the use of the sedative in executions be halted. The brief highlights the “national importance” of the case when it comes to lethal injections.

“In sum, midazolam’s mechanism of action makes it unsuitable as the first drug in the State of Ohio’s three-drug lethal injection protocol because it is incapable of inducing unconsciousness and cannot prevent the infliction of severe pain,” the filing reads. “The record of midazolam-protocol executions is profoundly troubling.”

Tags: , , ,

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Cleveland Scene works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Cleveland and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Cleveland's true free press free.

Read the Digital Print Issue

October 21, 2020

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


© 2020 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation