Sickly Ohio death row inmate will get 'special, wedge-shaped pillow' to help him breathe during execution

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A sick Ohio inmate will receive a wedge-shaped pillow to help him breathe as he’s put to death this week, officials said.

Alva Campbell, 69, a death row prisoner who has argued he was too ill for lethal injection is slated to die by injection Wednesday.

Campbell has severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder as the result of a decades-long two-pack-a-day smoking habit.


Campbell’s attorneys say he uses a walker, relies on a colostomy bag, requires four breathing treatments a day and may have lung cancer. They have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stop Wednesday's execution, because of his poor health, a motion opposed by the state.

The attorneys warned Campbell’s death could become a “spectacle” if guards are unable to find suitable veins in the sick inmate’s arms.

Dr. James McWeeney noted there were no objective findings such as increased pulse rate or breathing to corroborate Campbell’s anxiety. However, he recommended allowing Campbell to lie “in a semi-recumbent position” during the execution.

Earlier this month, Campbell lost a bid to be executed by firing squad after a federal judge questioned whether lawmakers would enact the bill needed to allow the method.

Prison department spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said Monday that Campbell's "medical condition and history are being assessed and considered in order to identify any necessary accommodations or contingencies for his execution."


Meanwhile, prosecutors say Campbell’s health claims were ironic -- given he faked paralysis to escape court custody the day he killed a teenager during a carjacking.

Campbell, who has a lengthy arrest record, first went to jail in 1967, when he was 19 years old, for shooting a state trooper, Dayton Daily News reported. The ill inmate was paroled in 1992 after serving 20 years for killing a man in a Cleveland bar.

In 1997, Campbell, who was shot during a robbery, faked being paralyzed as he was driven by a Franklin County sheriff’s deputy to a court hearing on several armed robbery charges. While in a wheelchair, Campbell overpowered the deputy and fled.

Campbell took the deputy’s gun, carjacked Charles Dials’ car and drove around with him for several hours. Dials, 18, while crouched in the footwell of his own truck, was shot twice in the head by Campbell, court records showed.

Campbell fled, carjacked another vehicle and tried to kidnap two more people before he was found by deputies hiding in a tree, Dayton Daily News reported.

Campbell’s attorney’s argued he was regularly beaten, sexually abused and tortured as a child.

Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich rejected clemency for Campbell last week.

On Tuesday, the state said it was starting final preparations for Campbell’s execution. If the execution happens, Campbell would be the third inmate to be executed in the state this year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.