Monday, 28 May 2007

AP NewsBreak: Time Ohio inmate took to die was longest in 8 years in the state

AP NewsBreak: Time Ohio inmate took to die was longest in 8 years in the state

2007-05-26 05:21:43 -

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) _ An obese Ohio inmate, whose execution was delayed for nearly two hours because of difficulty locating a vein in which to inject the lethal drugs, took 16 minutes to die _ the longest for any inmate put to death in the state since 1999, an Associated Press review of prison records shows.

In the minutes that followed the injection Thursday, Christopher Newton's stomach heaved, his chin quivered and twitched, and his body twice convulsed, mildly, within its restraints. Other inmates died within an average of 7.5 minutes.

«The only movement I saw was ..... his chest moving and then his lower lip was quivering,» said prison spokeswoman Andrea Dean, who was present at the execution. «The warden told us he was snoring.»

Newton's unusual amount of movement and the duration of his execution raised new questions Friday among death penalty critics, who already had been up in arms after learning that it had taken 90 minutes to find suitable veins to deliver Newton's his lethal cocktail.

Ohio State University surgeon John Groener, a death penalty opponent, said the second of three drugs contained in the cocktail should have paralyzed Newton, rather than allowing the five minutes of movement witnesses to his execution observed.

State prison officials said there was no connection between the 90 minutes of poking with needles Newton underwent beforehand and his movement on the table. Newton died two hours after his execution was scheduled to begin, the longest delay since Ohio resumed executions in 1999.

Dean said Newton's obesity _ he was 6 feet (1.83 meters), 265 pounds (120 kilograms) _ explains both the difficulty in accessing his veins and the motion visible in the execution chamber.
Newton was sentenced to death for fatally beating and choking a fellow inmate in 2001 after they argued during a chess match.
Even before Newton's execution, the use of the lethal injection was being contested in court. A group of Ohio inmates is suing the state over the procedure, arguing it is unconstitutionally cruel and unusual.
Similar suits have been filed in several U.S. states, and problems with lethal injections have caused delays before, including in Florida last December where then-Gov. Jeb Bush subsequently suspended executions pending a review of the procedures.

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