U.S. News

Ohio governor delays two executions

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Reuters) - Ohio’s governor on Monday delayed two executions while the state and the courts consider what to do after executioners were unable to inject lethal drugs into a condemned man’s veins last month.

Governor Ted Strickland, a Democrat, issued reprieves to condemned prisoners Lawrence Reynolds, who was scheduled to die on Thursday, and to Darryl Durr. Reynolds’ date was postponed until March 9, 2010, and Durr’s until the following month.

The problems began on September 15 when Romell Broom, 53, was sent back to his cell after executioners failed to find a suitable vein in either arm to deliver a lethal dose of drugs.

A similar complication occurred during a 2006 execution, prompting a change in protocol where the prison warden nudges and calls out to the condemned prisoner after the drugs are initially administered to ensure the prisoner is unconscious.

Strickland gave Broom a week’s reprieve but Broom’s lawyers filed suit, arguing that the botched execution and an attempt to execute him a second time violated his constitutional right against cruel and unusual punishment.

A federal judge has set hearings that could extend the case for months or years.

Lawyers for Reynolds, 43, argued that Broom’s experience showed the state’s executioners were not competent. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit granted him a stay on Monday.

In a statement, Strickland said while the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections “has made progress, additional time is needed to fully conduct a thorough and comprehensive review of an alternative back-up lethal injection protocol that is in accordance with Ohio law.”

Reporting by Jim Leckrone; Writing by Andrew Stern