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Ohio killer close to execution with untried method
Ohio killer faces execution by untested lethal injection method; lawyers warn of 'air hunger'
By ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS
Associated Press
2014-01-16 09:22 PM

LUCASVILLE, Ohio (AP) -- A condemned killer was preparing for his execution Thursday by a never-tried lethal injection method adopted after the maker of Ohio's previous drug put it off limits for capital punishment.

Dennis McGuire would become the first prisoner put to death in the U.S. by the two-drug combination.

Some states that still carry out executions have struggled to find drug supplies for lethal injections after companies refused to supply the drugs for that purpose.

McGuire, 53, is sentenced to die for a 1989 rape and fatal stabbing of a young pregnant woman. He acknowledged that he was responsible in a letter to Gov. John Kasich last month.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a last-minute request to delay his execution after his legal team argued that a jury never got to hear the full extent of his chaotic and abusive childhood.

Ohio officials planned to use intravenous doses of two drugs, the sedative midazolam and the painkiller hydromorphone, to put McGuire to death.

McGuire's attorneys say he is at substantial risk of a medical phenomenon known as air hunger, which will cause him to experience terror as he strains to catch his breath.

A federal judge sided with the state and said the execution can proceed.

His attorneys also argue McGuire was mentally, physically and sexually abused as a child and has impaired brain function that makes him prone to act impulsively.

Documents obtained by The Associated Press show McGuire unsuccessfully sought a reprieve in recent weeks to try to become an organ donor. In November, the governor granted a death row inmate an eight-month reprieve to let the prison system study his request to donate a kidney to his sister and his heart to his mother.

But the governor said McGuire couldn't identify a family member who would receive his organs, as required under prison policy.

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Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/awhcolumbus

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