"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde

Monday, June 8, 2015

Does failed execution attempt mean Ohio prisoner can avoid death penalty?

Romell Broom survived a botched execution attempt in Ohio in 2009
Romell Broom survived a botched execution
attempt in Ohio, USA, in September 2009.
Ohio’s unusual pending death-penalty case, involving an inmate the state already tried but failed to execute, will be argued on Tuesday before the Ohio Supreme Court.

Attorneys for Romell Broom contend that the state would be guilty of unconstitutional double jeopardy if it tries to execute him a second time. They said in a court filing that the state’s contention that their client didn’t suffer physically during a botched execution on Sept. 15, 2009, “ignores the unnecessary psychological suffering Broom endured during two hours of lawless chaos."

Representatives for Attorney General Mike DeWine counter that what happened on Sept. 15, 2009, wasn’t a failed execution but a breakdown in the lethal-injection process, and a new execution should proceed. They argue that the U.S. Constitution doesn’t promise that executions will be pain-free and that what happened to Broom wasn’t unconstitutional “cruel and usual punishment.” 

The attempted execution of Broom, 59, on Sept. 15, 2009, was called off by Gov. Ted Strickland after a prison medical team spent two tense hours unsuccessfully trying to attach IV lines for lethal injection. The execution was rescheduled but never took place because Broom’s public defender attorneys filed numerous appeals.

Broom was convicted and sentenced to death for abducting, raping and stabbing to death 14-year-old Tryna Middleton of Cleveland as she walked home from a football game on Sept. 21, 1984. All evidence in the case, including DNA test results, showed Broom was the girl’s killer.

Thus, the failed execution, and not Broom’s guilt or innocence, will be the focus of oral arguments at 9 a.m. on Tuesday before the Ohio Supreme Court.

Broom’s case is unique in Ohio’s modern capital-punishment history, being one of only two known cases nationally in which an execution was halted after it began. The other one was Willie Francis, a 17-year-old killer who died on the second try in Louisiana’s electric chair on May 9, 1947, having survived a botched execution a year earlier.

Prison medical technicians repeatedly jabbed Broom’s arms, legs and even his ankles — a total of 18 attempts — but were unable to establish IV lines for the deadly chemicals. Media witnesses said Broom, 53, “appeared to grimace in pain and clench and unclench his fists several times. At one point, he covered his face with both hands and appeared to be sobbing, his stomach heaving.”

Critics argue that any pain Broom felt was minor compared to the agony his victim suffered before her death.

Source: The Colombus Dispatch, Alan Johnson, June 8, 2015

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