A federal magistrate judge today declared Ohio’s new lethal injection process unconstitutional and delayed three upcoming executions, reports the Associated Press. The ruling by Judge Michael Merz came after a weeklong hearing over the three-drug method Ohio planned to use Feb. 15 on death row inmate Ronald Phillips.
Merz rejected Ohio’s use of a sedative used in problematic executions in Arizona and Ohio. The judge also barred the state from using drugs that paralyze inmates and stop their hearts. Phillips’ attorneys argued that the method announced last year is worse than a similar procedure used years ago. The state defended the new process as constitutional and said a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year paved the way for its use. Ohio has not conducted an execution since January 2014.