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Ohio's Controversial Execution Protocols

After Romell Broom's failed execution, Ohio switched to a new protocol replacing the faster-acting three-drug cocktail commonly used in the United States, with a one drug injection of sodium thiopental, an anesthetic.

Ohio’s new execution protocol also contains a back-up plan, which allows the execution team to use intramuscular injection in case IV access seems problematic.
The protocol allows the execution team to inject two drugs, midazolam and hydromorphone, into any muscle of the inmate's arms, legs or buttocks, any unlimited number of times until it can be guaranteed that the sentence of the state is carried out and the defendant dead.

In 2011 Ohio stopped using sodium thiopental and switched to pentobarbital, as Hospira, a pharmaceutical company stopped making thiopental and manufacturers in Europe do not want to supply the drug if it will be used in executions.

While thiopental has been commonly used as an anesthetic, pentobarbital is more often used by veterinarians to anestesize or euthanize animals.
Lundbeck Inc, the Danish manufacturer of pentobarbital, condemned the use of the drug in executions and put the drug off-limits for executions.

By the end of 2013 Ohio ran out of pentobarbital. Due to the inability to replenish stocks of pentobarbital, the Ohio department of rehabilitation and correction amended its execution policy yet again, for the 3rd time since Romell Broom's botched execution to allow for the use of midazolam, a sedative, and hydromorphone, a morphine derivative.

Dennis McGuire was the first man Ohio put to death in January 2014 using a new and never-before-tried lethal injection cocktail.

During the long 26 minutes Dennis McGuire took to die he appeared to fight for breath, convulse and his gasps could be heard through the glass wall, reporters who witnessed it said.

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction issued a report pushing back on accounts of McGuire's execution, concluding that their drugs had their intended effect and that McGuire did not experience any pain or distress.

In May 2014, U.S. District Court Judge Gregory Frost halted all Ohio executions in the wake of the gastly and inhumane execution of Dennis McGuire.

McGuire's family filed a federal lawsuit. Other lawsuits followed.

Midazolam, one of the drugs in McGuire's execution ( As well as in the botched executions of Clayton Locket in Oklahoma and Joseph Wood in Arizona the same year), became increasingly controversial for its use in lethal injections. The execution of Joseph Wood had taken 2 hours during which the execution team kept administering new injections of midazolam and hydromorphone a staggering total of 15 times. Doctors have been labelling midazolam as "unsuitable" for execution, "because it is incapable of inducing unconsciousness and cannot prevent the infliction of severe pain."

Execution drug supplies nationally dried up as manufacturers, under the pressure from death penalty opponents, started putting them off limits for capital punishment.

The shortage of drugs stopped executions in Ohio between January 2014 and July 2017.

Ohio like many other states looked unsuccessfully for years for a new source of lethal drugs.
In 2016, Ohio announced it had obtained new supplies of drugs. -- but didn't say from where.
Getting any information about Ohios execution drug supply has become increasingly difficult, thanks to the secrecy law Ohio created in 2014 that shields almost all details about the drugs, including their source and their expiration date. Ohio also had adopted a new execution protocol, the three-drug injection that several other states have been using: midazolam, followed by a paralytic and the heart-stopping potassium chloride.

Court Rulings

On March 16, 2016, in a divided 3-4 decision, the Ohio Supreme Court authorized the state to try for a second time to execute death row inmate Romell Broom.

The court majority held that a second execution attempt would not violate constitutional protections against twice placing a defendant in jeopardy of life, nor constitute cruel and unusual punishment.

Justice Judith French dissented, saying, "The majority's decision to deny Romell Broom an evidentary hearing on his Eighth Amendment claim is wrong on the law, wrong on the facts, and inconsistent in its reasoning. If the state cannot explain why the Broom execution went wrong, then the state cannot guarantee that the outcome will be different next time." In a separate dissent, Justice William O'Neill wrote, "Any fair reading of the record of the first execution attempt shows that Broom was actually tortured the first time. Now we embark on the task of doing it again."

In August 2016 Broom appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to declare that a second attempt to put him to death would be unconstitutional.

Justices in a 6-2 order denied Broom's petition to review the Ohio Supreme Court decision granting the state a second chance to execute Broom by lethal injection.

In July 2017 after a three-and-a-half years moratorium on executions Ohio resumed carrying out executions with a new three-drug-method of the sedative midazolam hydrochloride, the paralytic drug rocuronium bromide, and heart-stopping drug potassium chloride, thus using the same drug the state deployed in its 2014 botched execution of Dennis McGuire.

Critics say midazolam doesn't protect inmates against the pain of the other two drugs and thus violates the constitutional protection against cruel and unusual punishment.

In May 2017 the Ohio Supreme Court set a new execution date for Romell Broom: June 17, 2020.

The Ohio Supreme Court Justices are granting the state the right to try to execute Romell Broom a second time as Romell Broom has not been able "to establish that the state in carrying out a second attempt is likely to (...) cause severe pain".
The Justices also write that "strict compliance with the protocol will ensure that executions are carried out in a constitutional manner." - meaning the inmate will not suffer severe pain.

Regarding the first botched execution of Romell Broom, during which the state did follow its protocol but nonetheless poked Romell Broom with a needle numerous times and given the ghastly and inhumane executions of Dennis McGuire and Joseph Wood, both executions carried out with midazolam, the very same drug which is planned to be administered to Romell Broom, the permission and plan to execute Romell Broom a second time, seems obscene and absurd.

Romell Broom's lawyers were appealing the decision of the Ohio Supreme Court to subject Romell Broom to a second execution.

On April 14, 2020, the execution date for Romell Broom was again postponed to March 16, 2022.

On December 28, 2020, while awaiting with ever-increasing fear his execution, Romell Broom died on death row, most likely of complications from COVID-19.

Solving the Gloria Pointer Murder Case

In May 2013 through a DNA match a 59-year old man from Cleveland was arrested for the rape and murder of Yvonne's daughter Gloria Pointer on December 6, 1984.
The man by the name of Hernandez Warren confessed to the crimes and was sentenced to life in prison.

Romell Broom's letter to Yvonne Pointer claiming his innocence proved to be true.