In 2009, the state of Ohio tried and failed to execute Romell Broom, a man convicted of raping and murdering a teenager. Officials at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville repeatedly tried to insert the IV to deliver the drugs, but the lethal injection was eventually called off.
Now, five years after that botched injection, and with Broom still alive and still on death row, the state’s highest court will consider whether Ohio can try again.
Broom was convicted of abducting, raping and killing 14-year-old Tryna Middleton in 1984. He was scheduled to be executed by lethal injection Sept. 15, 2009. Prison authorities spent two hours trying and failing to find a usable vein, attempting at least 10 times to insert the IV and causing Broom to repeatedly grimace in pain, witnesses said. (This followed two other troubled Ohio executions — one in 2006 and another in 2007 — that were delayed because officials had problems inserting the IV.)
The Ohio Supreme Court said last week that it would hear arguments regarding Broom’s appeals. His attorneys argued that another execution attempt would effectively punish him twice for the same offense, constituting cruel and unusual punishment as well as violating the prohibition against double jeopardy. The state said in response that since the problem in 2009 involved inserting the IV, another execution would not be a double jeopardy violation because “a first execution attempt was never made.”
All executions in Ohio are on hold until August, a delay ordered by a federal judge so that a new execution protocol can be established in the state. That followed the prolonged execution of Dennis McGuire in Ohio earlier this year. McGuire, who admitted to raping and murdering a pregnant newlywed named Joy Stewart in 1989, gasped, choked and struggled during his execution, which lasted for nearly 25 minutes.
The Ohio court’s consideration of the failed execution also comes not long after a botched execution in Oklahoma drew worldwide attention. Clayton Lockett, a convicted murderer, writhed and grimaced on the gurney during his lethal injection, which started late because the technician couldn’t find a place to insert the IV.
After Lockett’s physical reaction, officials looked and saw that his vein had collapsed, causing the drugs to seemingly leak or get absorbed into his tissue. Lockett’s execution was called off, but he died of a heart attack a short time later.