LUCASVILLE (AP) - A condemned Ohio inmate appeared to gasp several times and took more than 15 minutes to die Thursday as he was executed with a combination of drugs never before tried in the U.S.
Death row inmate Dennis McGuire made several loud snorting or snoring sounds during one of the longest executions since Ohio resumed capital punishment in 1999.
In attempting to halt his execution with the new method, McGuire's attorneys had argued last week he was at substantial risk of "agony and terror" while straining to catch his breath as he experienced a medical phenomenon known as air hunger.
Ohio officials used intravenous doses of two drugs, the sedative midazolam and the painkiller hydromorphone, to put McGuire to death for the 1989 rape and fatal stabbing of a pregnant woman, Joy Stewart. The new execution method was adopted after supplies of a previously used drug dried up because the manufacturer put it off limits for capital punishment.
McGuire was still for almost five minutes, then emitted a loud snort, as if snoring, and continued to make that sound over the next several minutes. He also soundlessly opened and shut his mouth several times as his stomach rose and fell.
"Oh my God," his daughter, Amber McGuire, said as she observed her father's final moments.
A coughing sound was Dennis McGuire's last apparent movement, at 10:43 a.m. He was pronounced dead 10 minutes later.
Previous executions with the former execution method took much less time, and typically did not include the types of snorts and gasps that McGuire uttered.
State attorneys had disputed claims that McGuire would experience terror as he was put to death with the new method. A federal judge sided with the state but acknowledged the new method was an experiment. At the request of McGuire's lawyers, Judge Gregory Frost ordered the state to photograph and then preserve the drugs' packaging boxes and vials and the syringes used in the execution.
Federal public defender Allen Bohnert called McGuire's death "a failed, agonizing experiment by the state of Ohio."
Read more in Friday's Tribune Chronicle.