Inmate's death called 'horrific' under new, 2-drug execution

Murder victim was 30 weeks pregnant when man raped her, choked her and slashed her throat.
TNS Regional News
Jan 18, 2014


It wasn’t the terrifying, brutal death he inflicted on his 22-year-old victim in 1989, but Dennis McGuire did not go quietly yesterday.

McGuire struggled, made guttural noises, gasped for air and choked for about 10 minutes before succumbing to a new, two-drug execution method at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility near Lucasville.

There was no clear indication that the drug combination — never before used in a U.S. execution — triggered McGuire’s death struggles. But Allen Bohnert, one of McGuire’s federal public defenders, called the execution a “failed, agonizing experiment by the state of Ohio.”

The family plans to file a lawsuit over the execution.

“The people of the state of Ohio should be appalled by what was done in their name,” Bohnert told reporters.

Ohioans to Stop Executions called for an immediate death-penalty moratorium after what it called the “horrific events.”

McGuire’s daughter, Amber; son, Dennis; and daughter-in-law, Missie McGuire, joined arms and sobbed as they watched the execution, separated by glass and just a few feet from the prison’s death chamber.

In the other half of the small witness area, split by a divider, the family of Joy Stewart, McGuire’s victim, watched in silence. Dewite Avery, Stewart’s brother-in-law, read silently from a Bible, then closed it and watched the execution unfold.

Stewart’s family later issued a statement, saying, “There has been a lot of controversy regarding the drugs that are to be used in his execution, concern that he might feel terror, that he might suffer. As I recall the events preceding her death, forcing her from the car, attempting to rape her vaginally, sodomizing her, choking her, stabbing her, I know she suffered terror and pain. He is being treated far more humanely than he treated her.”

McGuire’s death by lethal injection at 10:53 a.m. might have been marked by the “air hunger” that his attorneys predicted in legal moves rejected by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and declined for review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“What we suggested to the court did happen,” Bohnert said. He refused to speculate on whether McGuire suffered and would not say if further legal action would be pursued under the U.S. constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Judge Gregory L. Frost of U.S. District Court in Cincinnati has in past cases questioned Ohio’s execution procedures.

“Ohio has been in a dubious cycle of defending often indefensible conduct, subsequently reforming its protocol when called on that conduct, and then failing to follow through on its own reforms,” he wrote in a separate case in November.

“The court is not without potential concerns regarding some of the choices that Ohio has apparently made or is contemplating making in its execution plans.”

Such issues could well be revisited before the execution of Gregory Lott, scheduled for March 19. Lott was convicted of attacking and setting fire to an 84-year-old Cleveland man in the victim’s home in 1986.

Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction officials had no comment on the execution. “Consistent with our policy, we will conduct an after-action review as we do after every execution,” spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said.

Earlier yesterday, prisons Director Gary Mohr expressed confidence that the new drug regimen would result in a “humane, dignified execution consistent with our protocol and federal law.”

McGuire died from an injection of midazolam, a sedative, and hydromorphone, a morphine derivative. The combination was included in the state’s execution policy as far back as 2009 but only as a backup involving intramuscular injection.

The state switched to the two drugs for intravenous injection for McGuire’s execution because pentobarbital, the single drug used before, is no longer available as manufacturers will not sell it for use in executions.

The process began as dozens of executions in Ohio have, with the insertion of IV needles in McGuire’s arms. He then offered a brief, tearful statement: “I’d like to say I’m sorry to Joy’s family and thanks for the letter. The kind words mean a lot.

“To my children, I love you,” he said. “I’m going to heaven. I’ll see you when you get there.”

The chemicals began flowing about 10:29 a.m., and for a while, McGuire was quiet, closing his eyes and turning his face up and away from his family.

However, about 10:34 a.m., he began struggling. His body strained against the restraints around his body, and he repeatedly gasped for air, making snorting and choking sounds for about 10 minutes. His chest and stomach heaved; his left hand, which he had used minutes earlier to wave goodbye to his family, clenched in a fist.

McGuire eventually issued two final, silent gasps and became still. He was pronounced dead at 10:53 a.m.

Stewart, of West Alexandria, a small town in Preble County about 20 miles west of Dayton, was 30 weeks pregnant in 1989 when McGuire raped her, choked her and slashed her throat so deeply that it severed both her carotid artery and jugular vein. At some point, her unborn child died, too, probably in the woods near Eaton where her body was found the next day by two hikers. The baby’s name would have been Carl, his mother’s grave marker shows.

Her husband, Kenny, committed suicide within a year after her murder.

Editor’s note: Dispatch reporter Alan Johnson witnessed Dennis McGuire’s execution.


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

©2014 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)

Visit The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio) at

Distributed by MCT Information Services



I am sickend that he wasnt raped first . The state should have to pay for this


I absolutely love this program, it's actually the most financially rewarding I've ever had. You can work where ever, when ever, and as much as you want. Make $100 in a day, pretty cool!! I can't believe how easy it was once I tried it out. Linked here


the pregnant woman he raped and murdered was horrific he got what he deserved


I say the experimental 2-drug execution was a complete success!! The only failure was that he didn't suffer longer.


So he got exactly what he deserved.

Whats the problem?

J Cooper

Show him the same mercy he showed his victim.


Aren't there aenescetic drugs included that put the prisoner to sleep before the drugs that kill you take action? My uneducated opinion is that while it looked horrific from the outside, the man didn't feel a thing. I'll admit it was horrific for his innocent family members who had to watch...but do they really have to?


So what??? Percy forgot to wet the sponge again....big deal.


oh really? it was horrific? what about what he did to that 22 year old?! eye for an eye, right!? brutally murder her, and you shall be brutally murder. (at least I wish thats how it worked) they at least don't have to feel it like the victims. sorry what his family had to watch, but imagine what HER family went through.

Cliff Cannon

A bullet,would be cheaper & faster. So use them instead, if need be. It is not that I am cruel, it is that just like every law abiding American---- I want a solution to our crime problems and executing murderer's might not cure the problem, yet it also leaves behind no repeat offender, does it ?


Cliff, I expected better from you.

Cliff Cannon

@ 44846 GWP : I have not forgotten our earlier debates on capital punishment. As I remember only '3rd. world' type country's, that one is glad, they don't live in as a rule still execute murderer's ,true ?

Still, in gruesome murder's like this one. How can anyone 'rehabilitate ' this murderer ? So why not, in spite of the cost. Be gone with them ?

hit the road jack

I think they should have rubbed some turpentine on his bung hole,that will be painful,I guarantee it!

swiss family

@hit the road...... how on earth would you, or anyone for that matter, know that?????

Everyone is fam...

I'd day his victim suffered longer than 10 minutes. This man's family should join him in hell for even insinuating he is a victim and trying to get rich quick with a lawsuit.


This man killed not only a poor pregnant mother, but also her child, and her husband- since he committed suicide after the deaths. I find it appalling that blood sucking attorneys will be profiting from the lawsuits filed on this killers behalf. A convicted killer should have no rights-absolutely none. We would be far better served if we didn't have a legal system so bent on protecting them. This is after we fed, housed, and clothed this vermin for 25 frikkin years- much longer than his poor 22 yr old victim was allowed to live.

swiss family

I agree with you Thomas Jefferson...1000%... I say as soon as murderers and rapists and all of the horrifically charged criminals are found guilty.. within a week transport them to their new home(prison) and as they enter , offer them a suicide pill, something that will be a painful but comparatively short time... and if they choose NOT to take the pill, with 6 months execute them.. why keep garbage around for 25 years???plus the family needs closure... and his death would provide that for them ...


A 6 ft piece of rope and a tree woulda worked just fine.


I agree!

Really are you ...

I said this when the story first came to light a few months ago. "Ask Dennis McGuire if his death was humane. Did he feel any pain."

Hopefully his last minutes were reflecting back to why he was in the situation he currently was in. I bet McGuire did not ask his victim if she wanted any pain numbing medication. I hope he recapped the events he bestowed upon someone else. His victims face as she feared for her life, and her unborn child's life.


maybe the liberals would prefer they rape him then cut his throat,that would be my solution to this cruel drug


Good show !


Put this to a vote! We the people want trash like this destroyed.


The bigger travesty is that it took over 24 years to get it done. How many years did we pay for him to be imprisoned?

Cliff Cannon

@ billybob80 : You are on to the root of the matter, I believe---- cost. Believe it or not, it is cheaper for the tax payer to have a murderer, sent to prison for life, than it is to sentence them to death.

Why ? For the simplest of reasons--- the lawyers appeal forever these losers death sentences, as you well know. So who pays for that ? You & me.

So I for one, agree, that 'travesty's ' like this one need to end,don't they ? Because the alternative is anarchy, isn't it ?


He got what he deserved!


I'm sure his victim's experience was horrific as well. I have heard that the convict's daughter plans on suing the state because of the events that unfolded at his execution. If this guys family gets any $ in the lawsuit, I think it should all be given to a crime victims fund and not a dime go to this guys family! Why should they benefit from this guy's crime and unfortunate death event?? Maybe if the criminals know ahead of time that their actions will not only get them executed, but its gonna be a brutal, painful death, perhaps they will think twice before committing the heinous crimes! Personally, I hope this guy's execution hurt like hell!!


If you want to know what's wrong with this area of Ohio, look no further than these comments. High unemployment is the result of low education. I sincerely feel bad for the people who have to stand before God with the beliefs that are displayed here. These comments are being made by people with such hate and discord in their hearts that I am ashamed to call you people my neighbors in Huron County. Hate only breeds more hate. The world is so lost right now and no one is seeing the destruction that they are causing. Killing this man didn't create a time machine that undid anything or changed anything. Making him suffer for his actions is not our call to make. I believe burning in hell for eternity by the hand of God is far worse than any pain inflicted on earth by man. People that like hearing that others have suffered are called sociopaths. 4% of the population are sociopaths, which would be approximately 2400 people in Huron County. The numbers don't lie...some of you need serious help.

Cliff Cannon

@ JakeMac25 : Please do tell all of us 'sociopaths' which religion you find your ' God' in. Obviously, you do not adhere to Christianity.

Because,correct me if I am wrong 2 of the main precepts come directly from Jesus himself : Judge not lest ye' be judged " as well perhaps the most remarkable thing ever said by a religious person " But I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you "

Of course, considering there are some 50 different Bibles to choose from. These quotes can be stated in different ways. However, the precepts remains the same true ?

So back to the original question : What religion do you adhere to ? Muslims, according to the Quran can in some instances execute murders. Buddhist's are not allowed period to execute. Hindu's are about like the Bible ---it's o.k. in the old testament, not o.k. or kind of o.k. in the new testament, depending on your take.

So please do tell what religion do you adhere to ? Because no doubt in my mind. Anyone looking for a church to join---will not want to go to church with a sanctimonious, judgmental, insulting hater who lacks the intelligence to see the destruction his comment caused. Because the comment doesn't lie---- you need some serious " God " help

P.S. : “We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.”
Jonathon Swift


I must have struck a cord or two so please let me explain my comment. First, my religion is of no concern to my comment. The only reason I believe you want to know is so that you can try to shift the conversation to that instead of the main topic. The comments I was addressing consisted of the glorification of misery or pain being subjected on someone. I don't know of any Christian bible that teaches that. I haven't read all 50 Bibles that you speak of but can almost guarantee that its not in one of them. I also don't understand your passing of judgment on me while telling me not to judge. I wasn't judging but I was making a statement based on the facts that showed what I described. Based off of facts, people that get enjoyment from other people suffering would fall into the sociopath category. Based off of facts, 4% of the total population in the United States are sociopaths. Those are facts, not me passing judgment. I pray for the people in Huron County all the time, my enemies, my friends...everyone. Just because I am ashamed of someone doesn't mean I hate that person and if I feel sorry for you, I sincerely do. This area needs more positive comments and positive feelings. Not this overall feeling of hate and happiness in the pain of others. The whole situation is a very sad and tragic one. No one deserves to be raped, no child deserves to die in their mothers womb, no one should have to suffer to the point of suicide and no one should have to be executed in the manner that this guy was. The whole ordeal is sad and makes me sick to my stomach.