A convicted killer appeared to gasp several times and took more than 15 minutes to die as he was executed with a combination of drugs never before tried in the US.
Dennis McGuire was still for almost five minutes, then began making snoring noises, which continued for several minutes. His adult children sobbed in a witness room.
McGuire’s lawyers argued that he was at substantial risk of "air hunger", which would cause him to experience terror as he strained to catch his breath.
The 53-year-old was sentenced to die for the 1989 rape and fatal stabbing of a young pregnant woman. He acknowledged that he was responsible in a letter last month. Ohio’s never-tried lethal injection method was adopted after the maker of the state’s previous drug put it off limits for capital punishment.
Capital punishment continues to be a much-debated subject in the United States. 39 executions were carried out last year, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. Previous executions with the former execution drugs took much less time and typically did not include the types of gasps that McGuire uttered.
State attorneys had disputed claims that McGuire would experience terror as he was put to death with the new method. A federal judge sided with the state but acknowledged the new method was an experiment.