Ohio to give month's notice for execution changes

ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS AP Legal Affairs Writer Published:

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Ohio will notify a condemned killer a month ahead of his execution if changes are made to the state's lethal injection policy, attorneys for the inmate said Monday.

The 30-day notice comes in the case of death row inmate Gregory Lott, scheduled to die March 19 for killing an East Cleveland man in a 1986 arson fire.

Attorneys for Lott sued Monday to stop the execution to give them time to argue the state's system is unconstitutional, because it could result in a lingering death. The lawsuit follows last month's lengthy execution of Dennis McGuire.

Under state policies adopted last year, "There is a substantial risk of lingering death, of degradation, and of unnecessary pain and suffering," according to the complaint.

Ohio is also breaking state and federal laws by using drugs for executions without prescriptions, the lawsuit said.

The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction declined to comment.

McGuire, 53, was sentenced to death for raping and killing a pregnant newlywed in 1989. He repeatedly snorted, gasped and opened and shut his mouth as if yawning over several minutes during his Jan. 16 execution, though he appeared unconscious the entire time. His 26-minute execution was the longest since Ohio resumed putting inmates to death in 1999.

Lott's attorneys allege McGuire could have remained clinically alive 45 minutes after his official time of death, a fate that could also befall Lott, they said.

Lott was sentenced to die for killing 82-year-old John McGrath by setting him on fire in his East Cleveland home in 1986. McGrath died in the hospital 11 days after the fire.

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Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/awhcolumbus.