Ohio will use a two-drug combination untried as an execution method in the U.S. to put to death a condemned inmate who raped and killed a pregnant woman, the state prisons agency confirmed Tuesday.
The determination means the state was unable to obtain an unregulated batch of pentobarbital, the drug Ohio used until its manufacturer put it off limits for executions.
Instead, the state will use drugs from its untested backup execution method in the Jan. 16 execution of Dennis McGuire, according to the decision contained in a memo by Southern Ohio Correctional Facility warden Donald Morgan and released to The Associated Press after a public records request.
The untested method: an intravenous combination of midazolam, a sedative, and hydromorphone, a painkiller. No state has put a prisoner to death with those drugs in any fashion.
It's Ohio's second attempt to use the two drugs in combination. The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction intended to use the method last month to execute a man who raped and killed his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter.
But that inmate, Ronald Phillips, won a reprieve from Gov. John Kasich while the prisons agency studies the feasibility of his desire to donate a kidney to his mother and his heart to his sister after his death.
The two drugs were part of a backup method in which they would be injected into an inmate's muscle if the intravenous method failed. Because the pentobarbital is unavailable, the two-drug combination will instead be the primary method for execution and injected into McGuire's veins.