Reviews: no policy change need post Ohio execution

ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS AP Legal Affairs Writer Published:

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Initial reviews of Ohio's lengthiest execution during which an inmate repeatedly gasped found no reason to change the way the state puts condemned prisoners to death.

The reviews, required by Ohio's prison rules, found that the state's execution policy was followed and the execution and medical team members did what they were supposed to.

The findings are important because the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction is under strict instructions from a federal judge to stick to its written policies, last updated in October.

Ohio also is planning a longer review of Dennis McGuire's Jan. 16 execution looking more closely at what happened during the procedure.

McGuire's 26-minute execution was the longest since Ohio resumed putting inmates to death in 1999. His family is suing, saying it was cruel and inhumane.

"I find no reason for revision of policy for future executions," Joseph Andrews, an independent reviewer of the execution, said in a Jan. 27 memo.

"The process worked very well," Donald Morgan, warden of the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility, where Ohio's death chamber is located, said in his report.

McGuire was executed for the 1989 rape and stabbing death of Joy Stewart, 22, a recently married pregnant woman in western Ohio.

The results of the reviews were first reported by The Dayton Daily News.

Lawyers representing Gregory Lott, scheduled to die March 19 for a 1986 arson death, are suing to stop that execution based on what happened to McGuire.

McGuire, 53, made repeated snorting sounds and opened and shut his mouth several times during his execution by a never-tried drug combo. He appeared to be unconscious during that time.

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