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Gov. Kasich postpones nine executions

BY MARC KOVAC Capital Bureau Chief Published: May 1, 2017 3:32 PM

COLUMBUS -- Gov. John Kasich postponed nine executions May 1, the latest rescheduling as the state deals with legal challenges to its lethal injection process and attempts to locate supplies of the drugs used to put Ohio inmates to death.

The move came a week after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit agreed to a full-panel review of Ohio's adopted execution method, following an earlier federal magistrate judge's ruling that the lethal injection process proposed by the state was unconstitutional.

The new review will not be completed until mid-June at the earliest, according to the governor's office, prompting the governor's decision Monday.

Ronald Phillips, convicted in the brutal rape and murder of an Akron girl in 1993, was scheduled to be executed next week. He'll now face a July 26 execution date.

Gary Otte, facing a June 13 execution for killing of two people in Cuyahoga County in 1992, was moved to Sept. 13.

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And Raymond Tibbetts, facing a July 26 execution for the murder of his wife an an elderly man in Hamilton County in 1997, was moved to Oct. 18.

Other postponements announced Monday included:

Alva Campbell Jr., convicted in the 1997 murder of a Franklin County man, was moved to Nov. 15 from Sept. 13.

William Montgomery, convicted in the 1986 murder of two women in Lucas County, was moved to Jan. 3, 2018, from Oct. 18.

Robert Van Hook, convicted in the 1985 murder of a Hamilton County man, was moved to Feb. 13, 2018, from Nov. 15.

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John Stumpf, convicted in the 1984 murder of Mary Jane Stout and the attempted murder of Stout's husband, Norman, in Guernsey County, was moved to Nov. 14, 2018, from Jan. 3, 2018.

Warren Henness, convicted in the 1992 murder of a Franklin County man, was moved to March 14, 2018, from Feb. 13, 2018.

Douglas Coley, convicted in the 1997 murder of a Lucas County man, was moved to Sept. 18, 2019, from March 14, 2018.

The postponements continue a years-long legal challenge over Ohio's lethal injection protocols, following the execution of Dennis McGuire in January 2014.

McGuire, who received a capital sentence for the rape and murder of a pregnant Preble County woman, gasped for breath during what witnesses described as a prolonged procedure under the state's two-drug execution method.

In early 2015, state prison officials abandoned that combination, switching to two different drugs, though that protocol has not been used.

The state and others have struggled to find supplies of execution drugs, after manufacturers blocked their use for lethal injections. State law changes enabled the purchase of drugs from compounding pharmacies, under legislation that allowed the names of those businesses to be kept secret, but prison officials have not identified or obtained supplies in that way.

In October, state prison officials announced a new three-drug lethal injection protocol, using midazolam, rocuronium bromide and potassium chloride. But a federal magistrate judge ruled the new process was unconstitutional, noting in documents, "The court concludes that use of midazolam as the first drug in Ohio's present three-drug protocol will create a 'substantial risk of serious harm' or an 'objectively intolerable risk of harm'"

More than 30 executions are scheduled through early 2021.

Marc Kovac covers the Ohio Statehouse for Gatehouse Media. Contact him at mkovac@recordpub.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.


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