A condemned man appeared to gasp several times and took an unusually long time to die — more than 20 minutes — in an execution carried out Thursday with a combination of drugs never before tried in the U.S.Please read below the fold for more on this story.
Dennis McGuire's attorney Allen Bohnert called the convicted killer's death "a failed, agonizing experiment" and added: "The people of the state of Ohio should be appalled at what was done here today in their names."
McGuire's lawyers had attempted last week to block his execution, arguing that the untried method could lead to a medical phenomenon known as "air hunger" and cause him to suffer "agony and terror" while struggling to catch his breath.
A reporter for the Associated Press, which sends a journalist to every execution in the US, wrote that McGuire “appeared to gasp several times during his prolonged execution ... McGuire made several loud snorting or snoring sounds during the more than 15 minutes it appeared to take him to die. It was one of the longest executions since Ohio resumed capital punishment in 1999. McGuire's stomach rose and fell several times as he repeatedly opened and shut his mouth.”As a nation, we are in gruesome company:
Another eye-witness report from the Columbus Dispatch provided concurring evidence. Dispatch reporter Alan Johnson wrote that four minutes into the procedure, "McGuire started struggling and gasping loudly for air, making snorting and choking sounds which lasted for at least 10 minutes. His chest heaved and his left fist clinched as deep, snorting sounds emanated from his mouth."
McGuire's defence attorney, Allen Bohnert, said that according to reports he had been given from witnesses in the chamber, the prisoner was gasping for breath from about 10.30am to 10.44am. At some point, witnesses told Bohnert, McGuire tried to sit up, turned his head toward his family members who were witnessing, and spoke to them. One witness described the scene as "ghastly".
First, the numbers: Twenty-one countries carried out executions in 2012, the same as 2011. Those countries — of which China, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the U.S. are the biggest offenders — executed at least 682 people, or two more than in 2011.No matter the offense, there is no justification. And Ohio just made it worse.