Court halts Ohio execution, cites injection flaws

Associated Press

CINCINNATI — A federal appeals court on Monday halted the execution of an inmate in the Midwestern state of Ohio three weeks after problems with a lethal injection attempt.

A panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled 2-1 to grant the request of 43-year-old Lawrence Reynolds Jr., who had been sentenced to die for strangling his 67-year-old neighbor during a 1994 robbery.

On Sept. 15, Gov. Ted Strickland stopped the lethal injection of Romell Broom after state executioners struggled for two hours to find a usable vein.

Broom's execution is on hold while his attorneys prepare for a Nov. 30 federal court hearing. They argue that an unprecedented second execution attempt on Broom violates a constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Judge Boyce Martin said Broom's case raises questions about Ohio's lethal injection procedures, including the competence of the state's execution team.

"Given the important constitutional and humanitarian issues at stake in all death penalty cases, these problems in the Ohio lethal injection protocol are certainly worthy of meaningful consideration," Martin wrote.

He said U.S. District Judge Gregory Frost should consider the cases of Broom and Reynolds together in November.

Judge Jeffrey Sutton dissented, arguing that the state's policy addresses a scenario where repeated attempts to find a usable vein are unsuccessful.

"Why assume an execution protocol is unconstitutional when one of the humane features of the protocol, that the State will not continue trying to access a usable vein beyond a sensible time limit, is being followed?" Sutton wrote.

Strickland's decision to stop Broom's execution appears to be unprecedented since capital punishment was declared constitutional and the U.S. resumed executions in the 1970s. Inmates in several states have experienced delays with the injection of lethal chemicals, but those executions always proceeded the same day.

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