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States to try new ways of executing prisoners. Their latest idea? Opioids.

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The synthetic painkiller fentanyl has been the driving force behind the nation’s opioid epidemic, killing tens of thousands of Americans last year in overdoses. Now two states want to use the drug’s powerful properties for a new purpose: to execute prisoners on death row.
As Nevada and Nebraska push for the country’s first fentanyl-assisted executions, doctors and death penalty opponents are fighting those plans. They have warned that such an untested use of fentanyl could lead to painful, botched executions, comparing the use of it and other new drugs proposed for lethal injection to human experimentation.
States are increasingly pressed for ways to carry out the death penalty because of problems obtaining the drugs they long have used, primarily because pharmaceutical companies are refusing to supply their drugs for executions.
The situation has led states such as Florida, Ohio and Oklahoma to turn to novel drug combinations for executions. Mississippi legalized nitrogen gas this s…

Ohio: He's on death row, but he never killed anybody

Austin Myers
Austin Myers
Should he be put to death? The actual killer got a life sentence

Austin Myers became the youngest inmate on Ohio's death row 2 years ago after a judge sentenced him to the ultimate punishment for the 2014 murder of Warren County U.S. Navy recruit Justin Back.

Now the 21-year-old convicted killer is asking the Ohio Supreme Court to overthrow his murder conviction and death penalty sentence, arguing, among other issues, that he didn't actually kill the victim, yet he received a harsher sentence than his co-defendant, Tim Mosley, who he says carried out the actual murder.

"The imposition of the death penalty was so grossly unfair that it shocks the conscience in that the actual killer Mosley received life without (parole), while the accomplice Myers received the death penalty," says an appeal filed last month by Myers' attorneys, Timothy McKenna and Roger Kirk.

Indeed, legal experts say that executions of people who did not directly kill their victims are incredibly rare. 

The Death Penalty Information Center lists just 10 such cases out of the more than 1,400 executions since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.

The case of a Texas man facing execution for a murder he did not directly take part in attracted national attention this summer. 

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals halted the scheduled execution of Jeff Wood 6 days before he was set to die by lethal injection.

"(Myers' case) is a rare scenario where the actual physical killer cuts a deal and gets out of the death penalty," said Mark Krumbein, a former prosecutor turned defense attorney who's defended more than a dozen clients in capital murder cases. "I don't know how the (appeals) court would react to that."

But prosecutors in the case argue that Myers doesn't fit within that narrow category of convicted killers who face execution under Ohio's felony-murder laws despite not actually killing anyone.

Source: WCPO news, October 17, 2016

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