Ohio execution to use animal euthanasia drug

COLUMBUS Thu Mar 10, 2011 10:28am EST

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COLUMBUS (Reuters) - An execution scheduled for Thursday in Ohio will be the first in that state to use the drug pentobarbital, which is often used to euthanize pets and other animals.

Johnnie Baston, 37, was scheduled to be executed at 10 a.m. local time at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio for the 1994 killing of Chong Mah, a Toledo store owner. Baston's will be the 9th U.S. execution in 2011.

Lethal injection executions in Ohio have previously used sodium thiopental. But Hospira Inc. of Illinois said in January it would stop making the drug altogether after Italy, where it planned to move production, objected, citing its use in executions.

So Ohio will substitute pentobarbital, a barbituate, according to JoEllen Smith, spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

Prosecutors alleged that Baston, who had a juvenile record as a thief, had killed Mah and taken team logo hats and "starter" type jackets from the store, according to Baston's clemency report.

Baston admitted to participating in the robbery but denied shooting Chong Mah. Baston said he had no intention to kill anyone, and that an accomplice had committed the murder.

The defense argued in an appeal for clemency that the family of the victim Mah family did not want Baston to be sentenced to death and still opposed his execution.

The defense also argued that Baston, who had been abandoned by his mother and abused by his father, has been a model inmate and participated in several community service projects.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich denied the petition for clemency.

Smith said Baston had no requests for his last supper, so he ate on Wednesday night what everyone else at the prison was eating: beef macaroni casserole, spinach, peas, fresh fruit, wheat bread and a beverage.

The Baston execution will take place a day after the governor of Illinois banned the death penalty in the state, finding the system was too flawed to be fixed.

The U.S. executed 46 people last year, down from 52 in 2009.

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