Saturday, May 26, 2007

Ohio Executioners Take Two Hours, Ten Attempted Injections, and One Bathroom Break To Kill Christopher Newton

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This is revolting beyond words:

The execution team stuck Christopher Newton at least 10 times with needles Thursday to insert the shunts where the chemicals are injected.

He died at 11:53 a.m., nearly two hours after the scheduled start of his execution at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility. The process typically takes about 20 minutes.

"What is clear from today's botched execution is that the state doesn't know how to execute people without torturing them to death," American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio attorney Carrie Davis said Thursday.

"Having one botched execution is too many; that Ohio has now had two botched executions in as many years is intolerable."

Officials said the delay was due to Newton's size -- he weighed 265 pounds. In May 2006, the execution of Joseph Lewis Clark was delayed about 90 minutes because the team could not find a suitable vein. He was a longtime intravenous drug user.

A group of Ohio inmates is suing over the state's injection method, saying it is unconstitutionally cruel, and Thursday's delay helps show that the state is unable to smoothly complete executions, said Greg Meyers, chief counsel for the Public Defender's Office.

"There will be a day in trial that they will have to answer up as to what caused this two-hour delay," he said. "That's a lot of time messing around trying to get a needle in a vein."

But Newton, who had insisted on the death penalty as punishment and made no attempt to appeal, chatted and laughed with prison staff throughout the delay. It took so long that the staff paused to allow Newton a bathroom break.

Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat who took office in January, said every precaution was taken to make sure Newton was treated respectfully and was not in pain. He said he understood why death penalty opponents wanted a moratorium, but "I think what happened today is not any supporting justification for that."

Yes, I can certainly see how trying 10 times over two hours to inject lethal chemicals into a man's veins might be considered taking every precaution to make sure he was being treated respectfully.

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