Death Penalty

A photograph of Justin Back, signed in memorial by friends and community members, hangs in the home of Sandy and Mark Case.
Jerry Kenney/WYSO

A bill known as “Justin’s Law” will be introduced to the Ohio legislature soon.  The bill would allow for stiffer penalties for adults and juveniles convicted of aggravated murder.

About a year a ago, two 19-year-old men broke into the Warren County home of 18-year-old Justin Back. They stole some minor possessions and murdered Back.    

Ohio won’t be able to execute inmates until at least the spring, because the state is changing its execution drug combination again. The state is running out of the drugs it uses to put inmates to death.

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction’s 40 vials of midazolam will expire April 1 and its 60 vials of hydromorphone will expire June 1. Corrections Director Gary Mohr says the state will no longer use that controversial two-drug mixture. It was used in last January’s lethal injection of Dennis McGuire, who appeared to gasp and choke during his 20-minute execution.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Ohio Supreme Court has upheld a death sentence for a Cincinnati man convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend and two young children.

Mark Pickens was sentenced to die in 2010 after a jury found him guilty in the shootings of 19-year-old Noelle Washington, her infant son and a 3-year-old girl she was babysitting a year earlier.

The court's ruling issued Tuesday rejected Pickens' arguments that questioned testimony at the trial and how the jurors were selected.

Pickens was 19 at the time of the shootings.

Prosecutors Want Death Penalty Drug Info Shielded

Oct 2, 2014
Honavery

Ohio prosecutors are pushing for laws that would shield the identity of pharmacies making a specialized dose of a lethal drug.
 
Draft legislation that could be debated later this year also would grant anonymity to members of the state execution team and prevent doctors who consult with Ohio about its execution policy from being disciplined.
 
John Murphy, executive director of the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association, said Thursday that without a viable execution method there won't be a death penalty in Ohio.
 

Judge Extends Temporary Halt To Ohio Executions

Aug 12, 2014

A federal judge has extended a months-long moratorium on executions in Ohio as debate over the state's new two-drug combination continues.
 
The moratorium was to end this week. The new order extends it through Jan. 15.
 
That will delay executions scheduled for September, October, November and January, and highlights the ongoing problem faced by states in obtaining drugs to put inmates to death.
 

Ohio Court To Hear Former Death Row Inmate's Claim

Jun 25, 2014

The Ohio Supreme Court has accepted the appeal of a former death row inmate trying to clear his name in a pair of slayings he didn't commit.

Dale Johnston of suburban Columbus was sentenced to die in 1984 for the shooting deaths of his teenage stepdaughter and her fiance two years earlier.

The case against him fell apart on appeal, and he was freed in 1990. Another man confessed in 2008 to killing the couple.

Two years ago, a Franklin County judge declared the 80-year-old Johnston innocent in the slayings, allowing him to seek compensation from the state.

Governor Delays Next Scheduled Execution

Feb 10, 2014

The controversial way in which a murderer was executed has sparked heavy scrutiny from groups around the country. Now Governor Kasich has delayed the next scheduled execution.

Convicted murderer Gregory Lott was slated for lethal injection on March 19, but the governor has moved that execution date to November 19.

Initial reviews of a lengthy execution several weeks ago found no reason to change the way Ohio puts condemned prisoners to death.

The reviews, required by prison rules, found that the state execution policy was followed, and execution and medical team members did what they were supposed to.

The state is still planning a longer review of Dennis McGuire's Jan. 16 execution looking at specific things that happened during the procedure.

Federal public defenders who represented an Ohio killer put to death with a new lethal injection method are denying the condemned inmate was coached to fake suffocation.

The lawyers say it appears death row inmate Dennis McGuire may have misunderstood a lawyer's request to communicate truthfully what was happening to him during the execution.

Federal public defender Allen Bohnert's statement released Tuesday also renewed a call to Gov. John Kasich to impose a moratorium on executions.

A civil-rights organization is asking Ohio Gov. John Kasich to immediately halt executions after a condemned inmate gasped and snorted last week as an untested drug combination was used to put him to death.

The ACLU of Ohio made its request to Kasich on Sunday, noting Ohio has five upcoming executions scheduled.

Death row inmate Dennis McGuire was executed Thursday. And it was the longest execution since Ohio resumed capital punishment in 1999. McGuire's adult children said it amounted to torture and his family says they're suing.

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