Federal public defender Carol Wright, second right, briefs other attorneys and members of a team representing condemned inmate Gary Otte following Otte's execution on Wednesday in Lucasville, Ohio. (Andrew Welsh-Huggins/AP)
The state of Ohio on Wednesday carried out its second execution this year, putting to death an inmate convicted and sentenced to death for a pair of killings a quarter-century earlier.
Gary Otte, 45, has been on death row since 1992, when he was found guilty of robbing and murdering two people -- Robert Wasikowski, 61, and Sharon Kostura, 45 -- in their separate apartments in Parma, Ohio.
During his lethal injection, Otte used his final words to express love for his family and to praise God before apologizing and singing “The Greatest Thing,” a hymn. Otte was pronounced dead at 10:54 a.m., according to corrections officials.
Ohio had halted executions for more than three years after an unusually long execution that utilized midazolam, a controversial lethal injection drug. While executions have become less frequent nationwide in recent years, those states still seeking to carry out lethal injections -- Ohio included -- have struggled to obtain their desired drugs due to an ongoing shortage.
In July, after repeatedly scheduling and then delaying executions, Ohio resumed lethal injections, putting Ronald Phillips to death using a new combination of three drugs: midazolam, rocuronium bromide and potassium chloride.
Ohio resumed executions in July using a new lethal-injection protocol
It was the first execution in the state since January 2014, when Ohio, unable to obtain the drugs it had previously used, executed Dennis McGuire using a two-drug pairing of midazolam and hydromorphone. McGuire, who had admitted to raping and murdering Joy Stewart, a pregnant newlywed, appeared to gasp several times during the execution, which took nearly half an hour.
State officials pushed back on accounts describing McGuire’s execution, saying that he “did not experience any pain or distress” and adding that they would use the same drug combination going forward before reversing course.
Ohio’s lull in executions was unusual, because it was among the shrinking number of states still regularly carrying out death sentences. Between 2001 and 2014, Ohio executed at least one inmate each year, a rate matched only by Texas and Oklahoma during that span, according to the Washington-based Death Penalty Information Center.
Ohio Gov. John R. Kasich (R) earlier this month rejected Otte’s request for clemency. Attorneys for Otte had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene and stay the execution, but it was rejected by the justices on Tuesday night without explanation. There were no recorded dissents.
Otte’s execution was carried out at the state prison in Lucasville, about 80 miles south of Columbus, the capital. The state’s next planned execution is scheduled for Nov. 15.
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