Dennis McGuire’s Execution by Suffocation

It took Dennis McGuire a staggering 15 minutes to die as he was executed for the 1989 rape and murder of Joy Stewart. On Thursday, January 16th, at the Southern Ohio Correction Facility in Lucasville, McGuire was given a previously untested lethal injection cocktail resulting in a prolonged period of suffocation. Of those who attended the execution, Alan Johnson of the Columbus dispatch shares the following account:

McGuire started struggling and gasping loudly for air, making snorting and choking sounds that lasted for at least 10 minutes, with his chest heaving and his fist clenched. Deep, rattling sounds emanated from his mouth.

The nature of McGuire’s death is described by many of those present as torture, as the administered combination of  midazolam, a sedative, and hydromorphone, a powerful analgesic, resulted in the symptoms described by Mr. Johnson above, also known as a sensation called “air hunger.” The duration of McGuire’s death and the visible signs of suffering he exhibited are stark indications of Ohio’s failed attempt to cover for the shortage of pentobarbital, the drug used for execution until Ohio ran out of its supply in 2009.

News of McGuire’s execution in Ohio has sparked conversation nationally and comes at a time when other states are actively seeking to repeal the death penalty. Both New Hampshire and Kansas are currently considering bills to end the death penalty.

The links below offer suggestions and ways to become involved in the national response to the events that occurred in Ohio on Thursday.

Take action now.

Photo from Huffington Post.

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