US & Canada

Ohio increases execution drug levels after row

Undated file photo of Dennis McGuire provided by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction Image copyright AP
Image caption Dennis McGuire raped and killed a young pregnant woman

The US state of Ohio plans to increase its dosage of death-penalty drugs after a convicted murderer took nearly half an hour to die from a new injection.

Lawyers for Dennis McGuire, 53, have argued he suffered an "agonising" death violating his constitutional rights.

But an official review determined he was asleep and did not experience pain.

The state will increase the amount of sedative and painkiller used in the two-drug injection, however, to "allay any remaining concerns".

'Constitutional manner'

McGuire "did not experience pain, distress or air hunger after the drugs were administered or when the bodily movements and sounds occurred," according to a Department of Rehabilitation and Correction review.

"His execution was conducted in a constitutional manner consistent with the policy."

Witnesses said McGuire - who raped and killed a pregnant woman in 1989 - gasped for up to 26 minutes on 16 January before he died from the sedative midazolam and painkiller hydromorphone.

It is the longest execution since Ohio resumed the practice in 1999.

The state was forced to change its lethal injection to a new two-drug cocktail after the Danish maker of the previous execution drug refused to allow its use in capital punishment.

The planned drug increase comes 30 days before the state's next scheduled execution - of a man convicted of the 1983 killing of a produce vendor - on 28 May.

On Tuesday, two death row inmates who lost a case in the Oklahoma Supreme Court are due to be put to death.

The court ruled they had no right to know the source of the drugs that will be used to kill them.

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