USA: NEW EXECUTION METHOD IS USED IN OHIO
December 8, 2009: a convicted killer in Ohio became the first person in the United States to be executed with a one-drug intravenous lethal injection.
The new method, which involved a large dose of anesthetic, akin to how animals are euthanized, has been hailed by most experts as painless and an improvement over the three-drug cocktail used in all other states that employ lethal injection, but it is unlikely to settle the debate over the death penalty.
While praising the shift to a single drug, death penalty opponents argue that Ohioâ€™s new method, and specifically its backup plan of using intramuscular injection if the authorities are unable to find a usable vein, has not been properly vetted by legal and medical experts. Since it had never been tried on humans before, they contend it is the equivalent of human experimentation.
But the United States Supreme Court refused to intervene on December 8 morning, and the procedure went largely as planned.
The inmate, Kenneth Biros, 51, died at 11:47 a.m. Terry J. Collins, director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, said the drug took about 10 minutes to take effect, roughly the same length of time as the three-drug cocktail. It took about 30 minutes for the execution team to find a usable vein, after having inserted the needle several times into each arm.
Ohio adopted the one-drug method last month after a failed execution attempt in September in which the authorities spent more than two hours trying to find a usable vein in Romell Broom, 53, who was convicted of the 1984 abduction, rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl.
Mr. Biros was convicted of sexually assaulting and killing Tami Engstrom, 22, near Warren, in northeastern Ohio, in 1991 after offering to drive her home from a bar, then scattering her body parts in Ohio and Pennsylvania. She had been stabbed more than 90 times. Mr. Biros acknowledged killing her but said it was done during a drunken rage.
It was the second trip to the holding cell for Mr. Biros, who spent a day and night there in March 2007 as his lawyers scrambled to halt his execution. The Supreme Court intervened that time because of challenges involving the three-drug cocktail.
Opponents of the death penalty have long argued that using a single drug is more humane than the three-drug cocktail, which involves a short-acting barbiturate to render the inmate unconscious, followed by a paralytic and then a chemical to stop the heart.
Still, death penalty opponents criticized the state for not allowing more time for closer scrutiny of the new protocol. (Sources: New York Times, 08/12/2009)