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Published:January 17th, 2014 08:26 EST
Dennis McGuire`s Execution in Ohio Raises Some Doubts About Capital Punishment!

Dennis McGuire`s Execution in Ohio Raises Some Doubts About Capital Punishment!

By John G. Kays

The execution of condemned Ohio killer Dennis McGuire yesterday morning, where he took more than 15 minutes to die, raises a lot of questions about capital punishment in our country. As described by various news sources, including a Columbus Dispatch reporter, Alan Johnson, who witnessed the entire unpleasant proceedings, seeing the prisoner gasping for breath, rattling, guttural sounds emanating, and snorting through his nose, obviously choking (CNN). It looks like the drugs were administered to Mr. McGuire at 10:28 AM, but he wasn`t pronounced dead until10:53 AM; 25 long minutes lapsed.

The drugs employed by the prison, the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility, were a combination of midazolam, a sedative, and a painkiller hydromorphone. The exact dosage given to the inmate wasn`t disclosed; furthermore, this is the first time Ohio has used these drugs. Pentobarbital was the drug of choice previously, but Ohio ran out of it after the manufacturer, Danish-based Lundbeck, refused to sell it to Ohio`s corrections department. This is interesting, what`s the story behind Lundbeck refusing to sell pentobarbital?

Just a guess, but I don`t believe selling pentobarbital makes a positive contribution to their public image; you might say, it`s a marketing blemish. I can`t give you any specific citations, but it`s track record on executed prisoners has not been so sterling; I mean, it took them a while to die also. 

It might be argued, however, pentobarbital worked better than midazolam and hydromorphone, which in the case of Dennis McGuire, prolonged his death to the extent (it seems as if), he was an eye-witness to his own slow, agonizing death (Poe`s Premature Burial comes to mind). 

I`m not trying to be over-dramatic, but this is the unsavory impression I get from reading news reports suggesting with charged words, vivid descriptions of this man`s death. This is one of the worse cases I`ve ever heard of, as far as lethal injection goes, but then when it comes to some of the older methods used, such as hanging, the electric chair, or even the firing squad (remember Gary Gilmore), there are some ghastly stories around, topping any lethal injection botches. Having experienced some of these atrocities in my lifetime, I`m opposed to capital punishment, and always have been.

Of course, Dennis McGuire was no saint; he kidnapped, raped, and murdered 8-month-pregnant Joy Stewart on February 12, 1989. In some cases, there is some doubt about whether the condemned is culpable, but not in this case of Joy Stewart, since we have McGuire`s DNA left at the crime scene. 

He clearly did it, but if you believe in capital punishment (I don`t fall in that camp), then you have to admit he deserved a quicker, less painful death for what he did. This is the State`s obligation, if we`re willing to grant them the power over life and death.