Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Ohio Executes Prison With One Shot.

From AP:

An Ohio killer was put to death in an efficient 10 minutes Tuesday in the first U.S. execution to use a single drug injection instead of the standard three-chemical combination that has come under legal attack because it can cause excruciating pain.

Kenneth Biros, 51, was pronounced dead shortly after one dose of sodium thiopental began flowing into his veins at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility. The U.S. Supreme Court had rejected his final appeal two hours earlier.

Experts had predicted that sodium thiopental - used in many parts of the world to put pets down - would take longer to kill than the old method. But the 10 minutes it took Biros to die was about as long as it has taken other inmates in Ohio and elsewhere to succumb to the three-drug combination.

The mother, sister and brother of Biros' victim, Tami Engstrom, applauded as the warden announced the time of death.

"Rock on," Debi Heiss, Engstrom's sister, said a moment earlier as the curtains were drawn for the coroner to check on Biros. "That was too easy."

Ohio's switch to one drug was born of a botched execution attempt on another inmate in September, but critics of the three-drug method have long argued that it amounts to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the U.S. Constitution because it can subject the condemned to extreme pain while leaving them immobile and unable to cry out.

The three-drug method consists of sodium thiopental, a common anesthetic, along with pancuronium bromide, which paralyzes muscles, and potassium chloride, which stops the heart. The single-drug technique amounts to an overdose of the anesthetic - a method that injection experts and defense attorneys agreed would not cause pain.

Biros' executioners struggled for several minutes to find suitable veins, inserting needles repeatedly in both arms before completing the process on just his left arm. He winced once, and his attorney, John Parker, said he was concerned by all the needle sticks. But prison officials declared nothing amiss.



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