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Ohio Prison Guard: ‘McGuire Told to Fake Pain and Suffering During His Execution’

Ohio corrections officers claim that executed inmate Dennis McGuire had been coached by his lawyer to feign suffering and agony during his execution. McGuire, who was put to death using an experimental cocktail of two drugs, gagged and choked during a 26 minute ordeal in the Ohio death chamber on Jan. 16.

According to correction officer reports, McGuire told them his public defender had told him to make a spectacle of his ending to put an end to executions once and for all.

“He wants me to put on this big show in front of my kids, all right when I’m dying,” McGuire reportedly told at least one officer. “I ain’t gonna do this. Its about me and my kids, not him and his cause!”

The attorney in question, Robert Lowe, who was one of the attorneys assigned to McGuire, was temporarily suspended while an internal investigation looked into the truth of the claims. However, after an investigation, the accusations appeared to be groundless and Lowe is back at his desk.

“I’m sure that during all those conversations that were had at a very difficult time for Mr. McGuire, as you can imagine, that some of the information that was being discussed was clearly misunderstood, “ Allen Bohnert said in defense of his colleague and the public defender’s office.

The Public Defender’s office also pointed out that McGuire may have mixed up a signal he had discussed with his attorney, a thumbs-up that would show if he failed to lose consciousness. According to the Ohio Department of Corrections, there were reports that McGuire mistakenly believed after that conversation “if he started to choke or jerk in any way,” and gave the thumbs-up, the governor would stop the execution.

Bohnert added that the unfounded allegations about faking it take away from the real and “horrific failure” of the state, which caused the gasping and choking by using an untested and experimental drug cocktail in their execution protocol.

Despite mounting evidence, including McGuire’s botched execution, experimental drugs during state executions are becoming more and more common as states, including Ohio, scramble to find the drugs needed to put someone to death.

The most recent execution with an experimental protocol occurred in Missouri where, after a brief stay, Herbert Smulls was put to death this week with drugs compounded from an unknown facility. Unlike McGuire’s death, Smulls did not show signs of outward distress during his death.

Photo Credit: Undated file photo

About the author

Tamar is a New York based freelance writer and photographer whose work has appeared in over 15 publications. You can catch her work regularly on Issue Hawk, Latest, Jspace, and MediaGlobal.