Ohio Scraps All Executions Until 2017 Over Drug Shortages

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By Tracy Connor

Ohio has postponed all executions until 2017 because it cannot obtain the drugs it chose after a 2014 lethal injection using different chemicals had the inmate appearing to gasp for air.

The move comes a few months after the Food and Drug Administration warned the state it could not try to import a powerful sedative from overseas.

Ohio is just the latest state to face execution delays because of drug shortages that began when manufacturers were pressured to stop selling their products to prisons for the purpose of putting inmates to death.

In January 2014, the state used an experimental concoction — a mixture of midazolam and hydromorphone — to kill Dennis McGuire.

McGuire, who was convicted of raping and stabbing to death a pregnant woman, took 25 minutes to die and appeared to be gasping for breath at points, witnesses reported.

Image: Ronald Phillips
Ronald Phillips' execution has been postponed again.Uncredited / AP

The state scrapped plans to use that combination in future executions and said inmates would be executed with either sodium thiopental or pentobarbital — which it has been unable to obtain.

Its failure to find a source means that Ronald Phillips — who had previously won a delay with a request to donate his organs — is having his execution date pushed back an entire year until Jan. 12, 2017. Phillips was convicted of raping and murdering a 3-year-old girl in 1993.