Ohio plans to resume executions in January after a three-year moratorium due to a shortage of execution drugs, lawyers said Monday.


Death row inmate Ronald Phillips. (Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction via AP)

The Ohio Attorney General’s office said in court that it plans to use a new three-drug cocktail to carry out executions. According to the Associated Press, the state said it plans to use the sedative midazolam, the muscle relaxer rocuronium bromide, and potassium chloride, which stops a person’s heart.

The attorney general’s office said it plans to file formal notice of the change later this week. The state will now be able to move forward with the execution of Ronald Phillips, who was convicted of raping and killing his girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter in 1993. There are nearly two-dozen other inmates on Ohio’s death row.

The switch comes after executions in Ohio and other states went awry in recent years. Ohio has not executed anyone since 2014, when witnesses said Dennis McGuire gasped during his execution, which lasted a half-hour. In Oklahoma, inmate Clayton Lockett died of a heart attack in April 2014 after authorities halted an execution that led him to convulse and a vein to burst. In Arizona, the July 2014 execution of convicted murderer Joseph Wood took more than two hours. Witnesses said Wood struggled to breathe, but state officials said he was snoring.

States have also struggled to carry out executions amid shortages of the drugs typically used in executions, forcing them to find different combinations or explore other options to put people to death. Both American and European companies have prevented their drugs from being used in executions in the United States; the latest was Pfizer, which earlier this year said its drugs cannot be used for executions.

In Ohio, Gov. John Kasich signed a law in 2014 shielding the identity of companies whose drugs are used in executions. A federal judge upheld the law in 2015.

The Supreme Court ruled last year that Oklahoma’s protocol for executing prisoners, which included midazolam, did not lead to an unconstitutional amount of suffering.