September 15, 2009 / 11:09 PM / 10 years ago

U.S. execution fails over inmate's unsuitable veins

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Executioners couldn’t find a suitable vein in which to inject drugs to kill a 53-year-old murderer, who then got a one-week reprieve from the governor so Ohio prison officials can figure out what to do.

“This is unchartered territory for us,” prison spokeswoman Julie Walburn said of the difficulty in killing convicted rapist and murderer Romell Broom.

Democratic Governor Ted Strickland issued the reprieve at the request of the prison warden overseeing the state’s execution chamber at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville.

Walburn said prison officials would consult “several people” about how to perform Broom’s execution, which by state law must be done by lethal injection.

Broom is to be executed for the rape and murder of 14-year-old Tryna Middleton in Cleveland in 1984.

It was not the first time Ohio has had difficulty executing a condemned man.

In May 2006, Joseph Clark sat up to tell his executioners the drugs intended to render him unconscious were not working.

The state subsequently added a step to its execution protocol where the warden tries to rouse the condemned prisoner after an initial dose of sedatives is administered before the injection of lethal drugs.

Broom’s execution did not get that far.

“Our team attempted several times to obtain an access point, however those access points were not usable,” Walburn said. She said Broom’s veins had appeared to be accessible in a medical evaluation.

The prisoner was cooperative throughout, Walburn said.

Some of Middleton’s family members present to witness the execution were emotional afterward, Walburn said.

“They were looking for closure and obviously they did not get that,” she said.

Reporting by Andrew Stern, editing by Philip Barbara

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