COLUMBUS, Ohio – The family of an Ohio inmate whose troubling execution more than a year ago led to an unofficial moratorium on capital punishment in the state is dropping their civil rights lawsuit.
The adult children of executed inmate Dennis McGuire, who snorted and gasped when put to death with a never-tried 2-drug combo, asked a federal judge Monday to dismiss the lawsuit filed against the state and an Illinois drugmaker.
The lawsuit said McGuire suffered "needless pain and suffering" during his January 2014 execution using a sedative, midazolam, and a painkiller, hydropmorphone. A nearly two-hour execution in Arizona in July deepened concerns about the same 2-drug method.
The state prisons agency announced last month it was dropping the method in favor of alternative anesthetics which it currently doesn't have. That decision satisfied the goals of McGuire's family, eliminating the need to pursue the lawsuit, said attorney Jon Paul Rion.
"They wanted to be assured that nobody else would be subjected to the same drugs that their father was, subjected to in the way that he died," he said. "By bringing the suffering to light, the state of Ohio has clearly changed their protocol."
The state Attorney General's office, which represented the prisons agency, declined comment, as did Lake Forest, Illinois-based Hospira Inc.
McGuire was executed for the 1989 rape and stabbing death of Joy Stewart, 22, a recently married pregnant woman in western Ohio.
On April 28, the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction concluded there was no evidence that McGuire "experienced any pain, distress or anxiety."
The 2-drug method was Ohio's second choice under its former execution rules, but it was unable to obtain supplies of its first choice, compounded pentobarbital, a drug used successfully by Missouri and Texas in several recent executions.
Last year, Gov. John Kasich signed a bill into law shielding the names of companies that provide Ohio with lethal drugs, a move aimed at persuading compounding pharmacies to provide pentobarbital.
Executions after McGuire were put on hold by court rulings. Last week, the state said it was pushing all executions into next year.