Ohio Gov. John Kasich delayed eight scheduled executions because of continuing litigation over lethal injection drugs, the Columbus Dispatch reports. The governor used his executive clemency authority to reschedule the executions, beginning with Ronald Phillips who was to be put to death on Wednesday for the 1993 rape and murder of three-year-old Sheila Marie Evans. Phillips will now be executed on May 10. U.S. Magistrate Judge Craig Merz last month barred the state’s use of a three-drug protocol, declaring it unconstitutional, and blocked the pending execution of Phillips and two other inmates. The state has appealed the ruling to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. “While Ohio is confident its appeal will ultimately be successful … the appellate court’s scheduling will not allow the matter to be resolved in time to allow the state to move forward with its current execution dates,” Kasich said.
Merz cited problems with executions in other states with the use of midazolam, one of the three drugs in Ohio’s protocol, along with rocuronium bromide and potassium chloride. Ohio hasn’t had an execution since Jan. 16, 2014, when Dennis McGuire choked, gasped and struggled against his restraints for much of the 26 minutes it took for him to die. Midazolam was one of the drugs used to execute McGuire.