" Accused killers fight to question executioners," is Brad Dicken's report in the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram.
Attorneys for two accused killers challenging the state’s lethal injection protocols don’t take no for an answer.
Despite Lorain County Common Pleas Judge James Burge’s refusal to allow them to question the three medically trained members of the state’s execution team, the attorneys are again asking Burge to grant their request to interview them.
The request came Tuesday in the written closing arguments submitted by attorneys for Ruben Rivera and Ronald McCloud, who could face a death sentence if convicted in two separate Lorain murders.
County Prosecutor Dennis Will said his office continues to oppose the request, which centers on the qualifications of the medically trained members of the execution team.
Jeff Gamso, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Ohio chapter, wrote that interviews with those execution team members would help Burge learn what their experience level and qualifications are and whether they are “appropriate members” of the team. Gamso also argues that Burge should declare that the state’s current lethal injection process doesn’t meet an
Ohio law requiring that executions be quick and painless. He also said it is unconstitutional.
He points to convicted killer Joe Clark and Christopher Newton, whose executions took far longer than most, as proof that there are still problems with how the lethal three-drug cocktail is administered.
Clark’s 2006 execution took 88 minutes, and at one point, he told prison officials that the drugs weren’t working, Gamso wrote, adding that it took 19 tries to get the IVs properly connected to Clark to allow the drugs to enter his system.
Newton’s 2007 execution, Gamso wrote, took nearly two hours, and when the drugs finally started flowing, it took about 16 minutes for them to kill him.
“It is clear that on at least two occasions, things did go wrong,” Gamso wrote.
In the Lorain Morning Journal Matt Suman writes, " Defendants want executioners to testify in lethal injection case."
Of the three members of the execution team, two of those people are EMTs and the third has certification with the American Society if Clinical Pathologists, Gamso wrote in the brief yesterday.
Two expert witnesses, both anesthesiologists, one for the state and one on behalf of McCloud and Rivera testified in a hearing in April. Dr. Mark Heath, on behalf of McCloud and Rivera, testified that Ohio's lethal injection protocol is not appropriate for dogs or cats, let alone humans. Dr. Mark Dershwitz, an expert witness for the state testified that Ohio's execution procedure is humane and includes enough anesthetic to knock out an average inmate for two hours.
Earlier coverage of the Ohio hearing is here.