I'm going to break down the coverage into several posts, beginning with editorials.
"Dennis McGuire's slow, gasping execution is yet another reason for abolishing the death penalty," is the Cleveland Plain Dealer editorial.
The execution of Dennis McGuire in Ohio on Thursday, during which he snorted and gasped for air while taking longer than usual to expire, raises more concerns about how the death penalty is being carried out in Ohio and reinforces the many arguments for eliminating it altogether.
There are those who question why anybody should have sympathy for the way McGuire died because he obviously had none for pregnant, 22-year-old Joy Stewart while he raped her and then stabbed her to death in 1989.
But that misses the point. Opposition to McGuire's demise should not be construed as disrespecting Stewart's memory or her family, or letting McGuire off easy. It's about whether Ohio's methods -- including using an experimental drug cocktail on McGuire never before employed to execute a human being -- constitute cruel and unusual punishment that the U.S. Constitution forbids.
In our view, they do.
The Canton Repository publishes the editorial, "State can’t allow itself to be seen as an avenger."
We have no sympathy for him. The state of Ohio executed him on Thursday, and he deserved to die. The state should never allow the circumstances of his death to be repeated, however.
No one knows if McGuire was conscious or in pain as he struggled to breathe during the 26 minutes it took for an untested untcombination of two drugs to kill him. But now that state officials do know how that lethal concoction works, they must halt executions until they can find a better alternative.
"Learn What Went Wrong in Execution." is the editorial in the Intelligencer and the Wheeling News-Register.
Something went terribly wrong Thursday when Ohio prison officials tried a new mixture of chemicals to execute a convicted murderer. It took 26 minutes to kill Dennis McGuire, who raped and murdered a pregnant woman in 1989.
During the process, McGuire made sounds and movements that may have indicated he was in agony.
A combination of lethal drugs never used before was prepared for McGuire's execution. That was necessary because the drugs used previously are no longer available.
Clearly, the new chemical mixture did not work as speedily and effectively as state officials had hoped. The duration and manner of McGuire's death throes already have caused some, including his adult children, to term what happened "cruel and unusual punishment."
Today's Fort Wayne News-Sentinel of Indiana publishes the editorial, "We should debate the why of death penalty, not how."
It is the most awesome power that we can entrust to the state.
Whether someone being executed goes softly and gently or in agony is not irrelevant. But it pales in comparison to the reality that he is being dispatched into eternity. One second, he is there. The next, he will be no more forever.
So we should not be callous or flip about the execution of Dennis McGuire in Ohio last week, which was accomplished with a new and untested drug combination and took 10 minutes while he struggled, made guttural noises, gasped for air and choked. Wishing pain on somebody isn’t exactly taking the moral high ground, and it’s not in keeping with the constitutional prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. That is true even if it is somebody who has himself inflicted great pain and suffering.
But the crux of the debate should always be the very existence of capital punishment. We always must keep asking whether we should execute people, not whether we use this method or that one.
Earlier coverage of last week's botched execution in Ohio begins at the link. Next, news coverage.