"Attorney for condemned child killer: Changes in Ohio execution policy not acceptable," is by AP Legal Affairs Writer Andrew Welsh-Huggins. It's via the Republic. Here's an extended excerpt:
A death row inmate sentenced to die for raping and killing a 3-year-old girl was expected to testify at a hearing in federal court Friday as his lawyers challenge the state's new, never-tried lethal injection system.
Attorneys for condemned killer Ronald Phillips want a federal judge to delay Phillips' Nov. 14 execution while they gather evidence as part of their lawsuit against the two-drug process.
The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction announced a new execution policy last month and said Monday that it would use that system's second option: a combination of a sedative and painkiller never tried before in a U.S. execution.
Phillips' attorneys say the department's announcements came too close to the execution date to allow a meaningful challenge. The state says nothing is substantially different about the new system.
Judge Gregory Frost originally granted Phillips permission to testify in person, then switched to the video testimony when it was clear courtroom technology could handle the unusual arrangement. There are no recent examples of Ohio death row inmates testifying in person or by video in federal court cases.
The hearing Friday began by focusing on the state's decision to allow the prisons director or death house warden to delegate responsibility for changes in the execution process. That could include any deviation from the policy, down to paperwork documenting a particular step.
Ohio has walked away from that promise with the new policies, Allen Bohnert, an attorney for Phillips, told the judge.
"Federal Court To Weigh Ohio's Execution Drug Cocktail," is by Karen Kasler of Ohio Public Radio, via Capital Public Radio. There is audio at the link.
In Ohio on Friday, a hearing in federal court could decide whether that state will become the first to use a particular cocktail of deadly drugs to execute an inmate. It's the latest chapter in what's become a troubled history of capital punishment in that state.
While Texas is far and away the busiest state in the nation for executions, Ohio is just seven spots behind it. It has carried out 52 executions since 1999 and three so far this year, with another one scheduled in two weeks. And that one, the execution of Ronald Phillips, could use a new drug cocktail.
"The reason they went to use these drugs is, essentially, they're running out of options," says Andrew Welsh-Huggins, an Associated Press reporter who's written a book about capital punishment in Ohio.
Welsh-Huggins says the state has run out of its primary execution drug, pentobarbital, which has been getting scarce in the states that use it because its Danish manufacturer won't sell it for use in executions.
Mike Brickner with the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio says this is the third time in five years that Ohio has changed to an untested lethal injection method.
"We really don't know what the effect of using this drug cocktail will be, and that's the really scary thing," he says. "What we are proposing is basically experimenting on human beings."
Ohio proposes using the opiate hydromorphone, which has never been used in a lethal injection anywhere before, and the sedative midazolam, which was used along with two other drugs in an execution two weeks ago in Florida. Attorneys for several death row prisoners in Florida filed a lawsuit this week challenging the use of midazolam in future executions.
Earlier coverage of Ohio lethal injection issues begins at the link.