Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine postponed the execution of a death row inmate amid struggles to find a company that will provide the state with drugs for a new lethal injection protocol.
Warren Henness was scheduled to be executed on September 12, DeWine’s office said. His new execution date is May 14, giving officials about nine months to come up with a solution.
Prison officials are finding it impossible to locate a supplier of drugs for an execution method to replace a protocol deemed cruel and unusual punishment by a judge, DeWine’s office said.
US Magistrate Judge Michael R. Merz ruled in January that the dose of the sedative midazolam used in the state’s three-drug protocol would not render Henness sufficiently unconscious to prevent “severe pain and needless suffering.”
Merz likened the effects of midazolam to “waterboarding” and said the protocol amounted to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
The ruling led DeWine to direct the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction to assess options for execution drugs and examine possible alternative drugs.
The method has to comply with the Eighth Amendment and Ohio law, which requires execution in the form of lethal injection, DeWine’s office said.
DeWine plans to talk to House Speaker Larry Householder and Senate President Larry Obhof about whether to pursue legislation that would allow for a different execution, said DeWine’s Press Secretary Dan Tierney.
No bill has been proposed so far, Tierney said.
Meanwhile, drugmakers have told the state that if they suspect any of their products are being used in executions, they will stop selling drugs to the state altogether, DeWine’s office said.
DeWine said pharmaceutical companies that refuse to supply the state with medications put Ohioans at risk.
“Drugs they need for their health will be put in peril,” he said.
There is a “real threat” that whichever drug the state decides to use could result in the maker of the drug “cutting off the state of Ohio,” DeWine said.
Henness was convicted of killing 51-year-old Richard Myers in Columbus in 1992.
His reprieve marks the fifth execution delay since the judge’s ruling, according to the Columbus Dispatch.