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Ohio executed killer family sues the state for cruel and unusual punishment

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The family of death row inmate, Dennis McGuire, who was executed on Jan, 16 in a southern Ohio prison in Lucasville has filed a lawsuit against the state for cruel and unusual punishment. McGuire’s son issued a statement to the media, “I watched the state of Ohio execute my dad... My dad began gasping and struggling to breath. I watched his stomach heave, I watched him try to sit up. It appeared to me he was fighting for his life by suffocating.”

McGuire was in jail for 25 years on a murder conviction after he kidnapped, raped and stabbed to death an Ohio woman and her unborn child. His family is asking in their lawsuit for revisions to Ohio’s execution protocol, attorney’s fees, $75,000 in damages and causing pain and suffering.

The lawsuit explains why they consider this long execution as nothing short of cruelty, “Executing a human being with a mixture of clinically untested drugs that causes the body to consciously writhe in pain for 25 minutes constitutes cruel and unusual punishment...”

The Guardian reported details of the execution from McGuire’s priest who found the execution ghastly.

A family member of Joy Stewart murdered in 1989 issued a statement of their own saying, “She never got to realize her dreams, never got to hold her baby boy in her arms, never got to kiss his soft cheek. I know she suffered terror and pain. (McGuire) is being treated more far more humanely than he treated her.”

McGuire made loud snorting noises and with both fist clench was gasping for air during one of the longest Ohio executions since 1999 when the state resumed carrying out capital punishment. Almost 25 minutes passed between the time the lethal drugs were administered and McGuire was pronounced dead at 10:53 a.m.

The old method of execution was usually much shorter and did not cause the kind of sounds heard from McGuire. JoEllen Smith, Ohio prisons spokeswoman, did not comment on how the execution went but confirmed a review will be conducted. Five more Ohio executions are scheduled in 2014, the next on Feb. 19.

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