A condemned Ohio inmate appeared to gasp several times and took more than 15 minutes to die Thursday as he was executed with a combination of drugs never before tried in the U.S. Dennis McGuire's attorney, federal public defender Allen Bohnert, called his client's death "a failed, agonizing experiment by the state of Ohio."
Strapped to a gurney in the execution chamber, McGuire thanked Stewart's family for their "kind words" in a letter he apparently received from them.
"I'm going to heaven, I'll see you there when you come," he said through a microphone held by the warden.
As his adult children sobbed a few feet away in a witness room, McGuire opened and shut his left hand as if waving to his daughter, son and daughter-in-law. More than a minute later he raised himself up, looked in the direction of his family and said, "I love you. I love you" — his words audible even though the microphone had been removed.
McGuire was still for almost five minutes, then emitted a loud snort, as if snoring, and continued to make that sound over the next several minutes. He also soundlessly opened and shut his mouth several times as his stomach rose and fell.
"Oh my God," his daughter, Amber McGuire, said as she observed her father's final moments.
A coughing sound was Dennis McGuire's last apparent movement, at 10:43 a.m. He was pronounced dead 10 minutes later.
McGuire made loud snorting noises during one of the longest executions since Ohio resumed capital punishment in 1999.
The state used intravenous doses of two drugs, the sedative midazolam and the painkiller hydromorphone, to put McGuire to death for the 1989 rape and fatal stabbing of a pregnant woman, Joy Stewart. The method was adopted after supplies of a previously used execution drug dried up because the manufacturer put it off limits for capital punishment.
Executions with the former method were typically much shorter and did not include the types sounds McGuire uttered.
McGuire, 53, was executed for killing Stewart, a newlywed who was eight months pregnant at the time of her death, in western Ohio's Preble County.
"We have forgiven him, but that does not negate the need for him to pay for his actions," said a statement released by Carol Avery, Stewart's sister, after McGuire's death.
Stewart's slaying went unsolved for 10 months until McGuire, jailed on an unrelated assault and hoping to improve his legal situation, told investigators he had information about the woman's Feb. 12, 1989, death. His attempts to blame the crime on his brother-in-law quickly unraveled and soon he was accused of being Stewart's killer, according to prosecutors.
More than a decade later, DNA evidence confirmed McGuire's guilt, and he acknowledged that he was responsible in a letter to Gov. John Kasich last month.
Am not exactly sure why these people are crying....shebi he killed a woman who was 8 months pregnant...did she die a painless death? smh!