Ohio on Friday delayed its next scheduled execution to complete a review of a new two-drug combination that left a condemned inmate convulsing and appearing to struggle for breath for several minutes as he was put to death in January.
Gregory Lott, 52, had been scheduled to die March 19 by a lethal injection of the same combination of the sedative midazolam and the pain killer hydromorphone that Ohio had used in the January execution.
Ohio Governor John Kasich delayed Lott’s execution date to November to give the state prison department time to complete a review of that execution, spokesman Rob Nichols said.
Lott was convicted and sentenced to death for the killing of John McGrath, 82, who was set on fire in 1986.
Ohio and other states that have the death penalty have increasingly been forced to look for alternate drugs and sources of drugs for executions as pharmaceutical companies have raised objections to their products being used in capital punishment.
Ohio turned to the two-drug combination to execute Dennis McGuire in mid-January. Witnesses said McGuire appeared to be gasping for breath before he died. It was the first time the combination had been used to execute an inmate in the United States.
McGuire’s children, who witnessed the execution, have sued Ohio, alleging the state violated his Constitutional right for protection against cruel and unusual punishment.
The delay in Lott’s execution came days after a federal judge ordered Louisiana to delay by at least 90 days the execution of inmate Christopher Sepulvado.
Louisiana had also planned to use a combination of midazolam and hydromorphone to execute Sepulvado, who was convicted of killing his 6-year-old stepson.
(Reporting by Kim Palmer in Cleveland; Editing by David Bailey, Eric M. Johnson and Ken Wills)