- (Photo: Ohio Department of Corrections)
An Ohio prisoner is facing a unique death when he is executed on January 19. Dennis McGuire is scheduled to be put to death for the 1989 rape and murder of a pregnant woman, but the chemicals used in his execution have not been tested before in the United States, bringing controversy to the situation.
The state of Ohio will use a two-injection procedure to put McGuire to death because officials were unable to obtain any pentobarbital, the drug traditionally used in executions. Instead, McGuire will receive an IV of midazolam, a sedative, and hydromorphone, a painkiller. The drugs are normally used as a back up if pentobarbital fails but have not been used as the main means of execution on any United States prisoner.
States across the U.S. have been forced to improvise during executions, given that the main supplier of pentobarbital refused to deliver the drug once it learned that pentobarbital was being used in executions. The states have come under fire for using various drugs in executions, but that has not stopped them from carrying out the sentence.
McGuire was convicted of killing Joy Stewart in 1989; she was eight months pregnant at the time. The two met while he was working on a friend's home, then raped and stabbed Stewart in her neck and shoulder. He was convicted and sentenced to the death penalty and has been on death row ever since, but his lawyers argued that their client never received a fair trial and did not hear about McGuire's troubled childhood.
"Dennis was at risk from the moment he was born," lawyers said in an appeal. "The lack of proper nutrition, chaotic home environment, abuse, lack of positive supervision and lack of positive role models all affected Dennis' brain development."
"One can scarcely conceive of a sequence of crimes more shocking to the conscience or to moral sensibilities than the senseless kidnapping and rape of a young, pregnant woman followed by her murder," prosecutors refuted.
McGuire rejected a plea deal, but Governor John Kasich still has the opportunity to offer him a pardon, or stay of execution.