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Inmate's attorneys ask to stop execution, citing possible 'lingering death'

TNS Regional News • Feb 4, 2014 at 3:07 PM

Gregory Lott, the next Ohio killer scheduled for execution, could suffer a “lingering death” for 45 minutes after being officially declared dead – and might even be resuscitated, his attorneys argued in a court motion filed today.

Federal public defenders representing Lott asked U.S. District Court Gregory L. Frost to stop his scheduled March 19 execution, citing problems with the Jan. 16 lethal injection of Dennis McGuire. They said there is a “substantial risk of lingering death, of degradation, and of unnecessary pain and suffering” under Ohio’s current process.

Lott’s attorney’s asked for time beyond the 30-day notification Ohio officials promised if they plan to makes changes in the two-drug protocol used to execute McGuire.

Lott, 51, was convicted and sentenced to death for killing John McGrath, 82, setting him on fire in his Cleveland-area home in 1986. McGrath lingered 11 days in the hospital before dying. Lott came close to execution in 2004, but the U.S. Supreme Court blocked it.

Most intriguing among several arguments made on Lott’s behalf is the claim that with some drugs, executed inmates might not be really dead when a medical technician and the county coroner declare death by using a stethoscope to listen for heart and lung sounds. They contend that an electro cardiogram, a medical device used to detect electrical heart impulses, can find signs of life for up to 45 minutes longer.

“To declare death as soon as heart and lung sounds are no longer heard may make Lott’s death more pleasant for witnesses,” the motion said. “The participants in, and witnesses to, Lott’s execution will have gone on about their business as Lott’s heart clings to life even as he is transported in a hearse.”

They added that there is a “substantial likelihood that Lott can be resuscitated” after being declared dead.

Citing previous executions, attorneys said in the 45 minutes after death was declared, the lethal injection IV lines are removed, the body moved to a hearse, and the hearse left the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility near Lucasville.

Attorney General Mike DeWine spokeswoman Lisa Hackley said she had no comment on the public defender’s motion.

In McGuire’s case, he gasped, choked, and clenched his fists, all the while appearing to be unconscious, for at least 10 minutes after the lethal drugs began flowing into his body. The drugs, 10 mg of midazolam, a sedative, and 40 mg of hydromorphone, a morphine derivative, had never before been used for an execution.


By Alan Johnson - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)

©2014 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)

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