State officials find nothing out-of-the ordinary with prolonged execution

By MARC KOVAC @ohiocapitalblog C-N Capital Bureau Published:

COLUMBUS -- State prison officials noted nothing out-of-the ordinary in initial reviews of the prolonged execution of Dennis McGuire last month.

In fact, Donald R. Morgan, warden of the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville who witnessed McGuire's lethal injection, wrote, "The process worked very well."

And a special assistant who reviewed the process wrote, "I find no reason for revision of policy for future executions."

DRC Spokeswoman JoEllen Smith released the reports Wednesday, noting in an email, "a broader review is under way looking specifically at what occurred during the McGuire execution."

She added, "I do not have a timeframe of when that broader review will be completed."

McGuire, sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a pregnant woman in Preble County 25 years ago, was the first inmate executed using a new two-drug combination. The process took about 25 minutes, and witnesses described him gasping for breath.

McGuire's family has filed suit, and another inmate has filed a legal challenge hoping to block his execution, scheduled to take place in March. Some state lawmakers and groups also have called on Gov. John Kasich to institute a moratorium on lethal injections.

State prison officials have offered little comment on McGuire's execution, saying only that a standard review is under way, as is done for each death sentence that is carried out.

DRC did release three incident reports that quoted prison staff who overheard McGuire saying he was told by attorneys to put on a show during his execution. Federal public defenders deny those allegations.

And on Wednesday, DRC released two more documents related to the execution.

The first, dated Jan. 16, the day of McGuire's lethal injection, outlined an "after-action review," with confirmations by Morgan that the state's execution procedures were followed.

Morgan wrote "No" in response to the question, "Were there acts or events that were not anticipated in advance.

A second document, dated Jan. 27, included comments from a DRC special assistant, who wrote that he found "no issues of noncompliance" with the state's execution policies.

"I have observed the process and reviewed all associated documentation and found that the process was followed and all documentation was in order...," he wrote.

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