OHIO CANCELS EXECUTION OF CAMPBELL AFTER FAILING TO FIND VEIN
November 15, 2017:
Ohio cancels execution of Alva Campbell, 69, White, after failing to find vein. (Source: nbcnews, DPIC, 15/11/2017)
It was only the third time in US history that an execution has been called off after the process had begun. The state plans to try again in two years.
Prison officials had been warned about Campbell's extensive health problems but said they were confident they could carry out the execution.
The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction had acknowledged it had problems finding a vein during a recent exam, and the execution, scheduled for 10 a.m., was delayed for about an hour while officials assessed the situation.
The execution team first worked on both of Alva Campbell’s arms for about 30 minutes on Wednesday while he was on a gurney in the state’s death chamber and then tried to find a vein in his right leg below the knee.
Members of the execution team used a device with a red flashing light that appeared to be a way of locating veins while also periodically comforting Campbell, patting him on the arm and shoulder. About 80 minutes after the execution was scheduled to begin, Campbell shook hands with two guards after it appeared the insertion was successful. About two minutes later, media witnesses were told to leave without being told what was happening.
Gary Mohr, head of the Ohio department of rehabilitation and correction, said the team humanely handled the attempt, but the condition of Campbell’s veins had changed since Tuesday.
He said he called off the execution after talking with the medical team. “It was my decision that it was not likely that we’re going to access veins,” Mohr said. Gov. John Kasich, who on November 9 rejected Campbell's plea to stop the execution and let him die of his terminal illnesses, set a new execution date of June 5, 2019. Campbell was sentenced to death in Cuyahoga County for shooting 18-year-old Charles Dials in cold blood during a carjacking following his April 2, 1997 escape from custody on armed robbery charges. Campbell, who had already served 20 years for an earlier murder, pretended he was paralyzed to stage that getaway. "Campbell suffers from lung cancer, COPD, respiratory failure, prostate cancer, hip replacement, and severe pneumonia," they wrote in a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court. "Campbell must take oxygen treatments four times a day in order to function, and he relies on a walker for very limited mobility." Assistant federal public defender David Stebbins also says he is allergic to midazolam, the sedative Ohio uses in its lethal injection. His medical condition sets the stage for an execution that is so excruciating that it would violate the constitutional protection against cruel and unusual punishment, defense lawyers argued in their briefs. At one point during the appeals process, Campbell suggested that a firing squad would be a better alternative, but that's not allowed under current Ohio law.
Campbell is not the first severely debilitated prisoner to face execution. On November 6, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review an execution challenge brought on behalf of Vernon Madison, an Alabama death-row prisoner debilitated by strokes that have left him legally blind, incontinent, unable to walk independently, and with no memory of the offense for which he was sentenced to death.
In March 2015, Missouri executed Cecil Clayton, aged 74, who was missing a significant portion of his brain as a result of an industrial accident, had a post-injury IQ of 71, and suffered from dementia. On at least four occasions, states have provided life-saving medical treatment to prisoners who had attempted suicide, so they could then be executed.