Ohio Man Executed With New Legal Drug Combo

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Ohio man Dennis McGuire is set to be put to death Thursday, January 14, 2014, by a two-drug cocktail never before used in a U.S. execution. Dennis McGuire was convicted in 1994 of the aggravated murder of Joy Stewart in Preble County, according to the state's governor, who has denied a request for clemency. Credit: Chillicothe Correctional Inst.

(CNN) — Ohio inmate Dennis McGuire appeared to gasp several times and took as long as 15 minutes to die Thursday during his execution by lethal injection, reporters who witnessed it said.

He was convicted in 1994 of the rape and murder of Joy Stewart, whose relatives were at Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville to witness his death, according to tweets from television reporter Sheila Gray.

McGuire’s “children and daughter-in-law were crying and visibly upset,” Gray tweeted.

The execution, at 10:53 a.m. ET, has generated controversy because, like many states, Ohio has been forced to find new drug protocols after European-based manufacturers banned U.S. prisons from using their drugs in executions — among them, Danish-based Lundbeck, which manufactures pentobarbital.

The state used a combination of the drugs midazolam, a sedative, and the painkiller hydromorphone, the state corrections department told CNN.

In an opinion piece written for CNN earlier this week, a law professor noted that McGuire’s attorneys argued he would “suffocate to death in agony and terror.”

“The state disagrees. But the truth is that no one knows exactly how McGuire will die, how long it will take or what he will experience in the process,” wrote Elisabeth A. Semel, clinic professor of law and director of the Death Penalty Clinic at U.C. Berkeley School of Law.

According to a pool report from journalists who witnessed the execution, McGuire took more than 15 minutes to die, and made “several loud snorting or snoring sounds.”

Ohio ran out of pentobarbital in September, according to JoEllen Smith, the spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

In response to that shortage, the department amended its execution policy to allow for the use of midazolam and hydromorphone.

The state was set to execute death row inmate Ron Phillips using the new drugs last year, but Gov. John Kasich granted the convicted killer a stay of execution pending a review of a possible organ donation to his family members.

There are currently 139 men and one woman on death row in Ohio, according to the corrections department website.


  • carol slates

    If the humaneness of the drugs is a problem, shoot them. The cost of one bullet is low cost. Violent crime is out of control.

  • Brittany

    All I have to say is bullets are cheaper! & people on death row shouldn’t have years until they die, it should be wham bam thank you ma’am, good rittens I have a 20g that will take care of all of these losers. One shot, one bullet… It’s not inhumane! What’s inhumane is letting these crazy people thinking they can do wrong and much off of hard working citizens! & not to point out the obvious but I’m sure he didn’t care what he did to joy!

  • Lance Todd

    seriously, whats wrong with a bullet to the head?
    high caliper, quick and easy, no pain and as long as Obama doesn’t keep raising the cost of ammunition, its cheaper

  • dom morgan


  • susan

    Really? He rapes and murders a woman and her unborn baby and people are in a uproar because his execution took 15 minutes and wasn’t painless? Was he gentle and kind when he raped Joy and murdered her??? People are just sick and twisted.

  • Rebecca

    In my opinion it should of been an eye for an eye. He should have been raped first. He got off easy in my book.

  • Karen

    I’m sure his victim suffered longer then 15 minutes. I feel if you take a life you deserve to have yours taken. I want them to feel the fear and not know what to expect. Their victims didn’t know what was going to happen.. Maybe he should have suffered longer. I think there was not enough fear in the lethal injection. I want then to be scared to death while their taking there last walk..

  • kathie

    If our laws say he must die for committing this horrendous murder, then he must die. I agree — the quickest way should be used (bullets) but it is not our job to wreak vengeance upon anyone. God has said that vengeance is His alone. There is nothing worse than to fall into the hands of our mighty God. (For Christians of course — I know many do not believe this at all. The Christian’s duty now is to pray for his soul because he is going to need it.)

  • diana

    none of these murderers and scum bags deserve an ounce of our compassion. Don’t do the crime if you don’t want to pay the fine…in this case a slow and agonizing death. Or at least I hope it was.

  • Zotal

    I know I am the minority here, but I don’t believe in the death penalty. I know, if this was my mom or sister I would think differently.

    What I think should have happened to him though is stick him in a 3’x3’x3′ cell 24 hours a day. Too small to stand up or stretch out. Give him a bucket, and a blanket and nothing else. He can use the bucket to go to the bathroom in and once a month, we will empty it and hose his cell down (but he must remain in it). He gets bread and water to eat and drink. Eventually, his body would shut down and die.

    I know if I had to spend the rest of my life in prison like that, I would want the end to come fast. This way we make him suffer and we don’t have to fight all the appeals and costs involved with a death penalty case.

    • Red

      right Monique, and blacks don’t murder, right? trash comes in all colors!! have you walked thru a prison lately?????

  • John

    I’m sick and tired of his loser family being on television crying about his discomfort. Did he make his victim comfortable. It seems like the countries with the most heinous forms of execution (Saudi Arabia etc.) have the lowest murder rates by far. Maybe we should start beheading and stoning the monsters.

  • don

    they should have sodomized him first and then executed him, cutting off a finger at a time,then his toes, and whatever other cruel punishment we could think of,screw him! His family should think about what he did!

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