The family of Dennis McGuire will file a federal lawsuit against the state of Ohio over his troubled execution yesterday, says the Columbus Dispatch. The suit will contend that McGuire's 8th Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution to avoid “cruel and unusual punishment” were violated when he gasped for air, choked and struggled against his restraints for about 10 minutes before being declared dead at 10:53 a.m. McGuire's children witnessed his lethal injection at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility near Dayton.
McGuire, 53, was executed for the brutal 1989 murder of Joy Stewart, 22, who was newly married and 30 months pregnant at the time of her death. There was no clear indication that a drug combination never before used in a U.S. execution triggered McGuire's death struggles. Allen Bohnert, one of McGuire's federal public defenders, called the execution a “failed, agonizing experiment by the state of Ohio.” McGuire died from an injection of midazolam, a sedative, and hydromorphone, a morphine derivative. The state switched to the new drugs because pentobarbital, the single drug used before, is no longer available as manufacturers will not sell it for executions.