Dennis McGuire, a condemned Ohio killer, was put to death using a lethal injection method never-tried in the U.S.(Photo: AP/Ohio Corrections Dept)
LUCASVILLE, Ohio (AP) - A condemned killer appeared to gasp several
times during his prolonged execution with the first use of a lethal
injection process never before tried in the U.S.
made several loud snorting or snoring sounds Thursday during the more
than 15 minutes it appeared to take him to die. His stomach rose and
fell several times as he repeatedly opened and shut his mouth.
McGuire's adult children sobbed nearby in a witness room as they watched him die.
going to heaven, I'll see you there when you come," McGuire said. He
opened and shut his left hand several times before the drugs took
effect, appearing to wave to his children.
It was one of the longest executions since Ohio resumed capital punishment in 1999.
lawyers had argued that he was at substantial risk of a medical
phenomenon known as air hunger, which would cause him to experience
terror as he strains to catch his breath.
McGuire, 53, was
sentenced to die for the 1989 rape and fatal stabbing of a young
pregnant woman. He acknowledged that he was responsible in a letter to
Gov. John Kasich last month.
Ohio's never-tried lethal injection
method was adopted after the maker of the state's previous drug put it
off limits for capital punishment.
Some states that still carry
out executions have struggled to find drug supplies for lethal
injections after companies refused to supply the drugs for that purpose.
punishment continues to be a much-debated subject in the United States.
In all, 39 executions were carried out last year, according to the
Death Penalty Information Center.
Prison officials said McGuire
was awake all night talking on the phone and writing letters. He also
had emotional final visits with family members, including his son and
Ohio officials used intravenous doses of two drugs, the
sedative midazolam and the painkiller hydromorphone, to put McGuire to
The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a last-minute
request to delay his execution after his legal team argued that a jury
never got to hear the full extent of his chaotic and abusive childhood.
obtained by The Associated Press show McGuire unsuccessfully sought a
reprieve in recent weeks to try to become an organ donor. In November,
the governor granted a death row inmate an eight-month reprieve to let
the prison system study his request to donate a kidney to his sister and
his heart to his mother.
But the governor said McGuire couldn't identify a family member who would receive his organs, as required under prison policy.