The execution of three death row inmates was delayed Monday by Governor Mike DeWine, who said the reprieve was due to “ongoing problems involving the willingness of pharmaceutical suppliers to provide drugs to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC), pursuant to DRC protocol, without endangering other Ohioans.”
The move follows a decision in January, 2019 to delay the execution of Warren Henness, after a federal judge ruled Ohio’s current three-drug execution cocktail was unconstitutional, which lead DeWine to postpone execution dates for other men and order a review of the state’s death-penalty method.
The decision by U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael R. Merz said, in part:
In 2017, the Court heard extensive evidence that midazolam was not achieving the intended result of blocking the severe pain caused by the second and third drugs…
We have good evidence that midazolam will cause the ‘waterboarding’ effects of pulmonary edema. Reading the plain language of the Eighth Amendment, that should be enough to constitute cruel and unusual punishment.
The three inmates are Romell Broom, James Hanna, and Douglas Coley.
Romell Broom is a Chillicothe Correctional Institution inmate convicted of murder, kidnapping, and rape. He was convicted in 1984 of abducting and killing Tryna Middleton, age 14, who was walking home from a football game in East Cleveland, Ohio. Broom faced actual execution in 2009, but the procedure was called off after about two hours when executioners were unable to find a usable vein. His lawyers have argued for years that the state shouldn’t be allowed to try again. Broom was scheduled to be executed on June 17, 2020. The new date of execution has been moved to March 16, 2022.
James Gallen Hanna was a Warren County resident incarcerated for rape before fatally stabbing a cellmate with a paintbrush handle in 1997. Hanna was scheduled to be executed on July 16, 2020. The new date of execution has been moved to May 18, 2022.
Douglas Coley a Lucas County Resident on May 1998, when a jury convicted Coley of the kidnapping, robbery, and attempted murder, and also charges for other crimes kidnapping, robbery, and aggravated murder. Coley received a death sentence, and his case is now on direct appeal. Coley was scheduled to be executed on August 12, 2020. The new date of execution has been moved to July 20, 2022.
According to WKYC, Ohio started looking for new drugs in 2014, it took the state three years to establish its current three-drug lethal injection protocol. Since then, it has become difficult for states to find the drugs.
Ohio Governor Press Secretary Daniel Tierney stated to Tribune News,“As many lethal-injection drugs are manufactured primarily for medical use, Tierney said the governor is concerned that if drug companies find that Ohio used its drugs to put people to death, the companies will refuse to sell any of its drugs (not just the ones used in executions) to the state.”
A bipartisan group of state senators held a press conference Wednesday to announce they would soon put forward a piece of legislation to end all forms of capital punishment and it to be eliminated in Ohio.
As of 2016-2017, Ohio’s current prison population is 50,452, and costs an average amount of $26,000 per year, per inmate.
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Samantha Witwer is a reporter at The Ohio Star