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)

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Distributed by MCT Information Services


Cliff Cannon

@ JakeMac25 : In this article, GWP44846 " struck a cord or two " with me as perhaps, you noticed. He,as well as 'JAS ' have convinced me of the futility of the death penality as a deterrent to murder. So his disappoint in me, really 'struck a cord'

You on the other hand--- just flat out ticked me off. Blaming our high unemployment on the dumb, sociopath's who you were ashamed to call neighbors and why ? Simply, because we believe a particularly gruesome, evil man got what he deserved in the death penalty ?

Then when you injected " God " into the debate. That really cooked me. Because first of all,every last word ever written about " God " came from man. Then, I ask; How many of those " sanctimonious, judgmental, insulting hater's who lack the intelligence... " yet, can quote Bible verses at the speed of a machine gun, have you met ?

As you can tell----they absolutely sicken me. Particularly, when there are roughly 50 Bibles with somewhat different wording to choose from, as well as who knows how many different religion's to get one's " God " philosophy from. How can anyone proclaim their ' God' the right one or your ' God' the wrong one ?

Which of course,you didn't. However, the mere injection of a judgmental " God " ( who shares your opinion) into the debate, after your insult's of myself as well as fellow commentators. Defiantly put me into 'judgmental ' mode, which I do, as well as don't, apologize for. ( As sometimes, in my viewpoint, one must be 'judgmental' or how would anything ever get done ? )
Further, I really enjoyed, as well as thank-you, for your follow up comment. As not only did you nail the situation : "The whole ordeal is sad and makes me sick to my stomach ". Then, I add that is the " JakeMac25 " I really enjoy reading; Intelligent, concise and caring.

Lastly, I apologize for being so harsh. I hope my explanation as to why, I was so harsh will help you to forgive me.


No need to apologize but I appreciate it. If anything I owed you one for not being more clear in my original comment and upsetting you. I look forward to your comments on here and respect your opinion, even if we completely disagree! I will say that my comment about high unemployment was based off of an actual report and not my opinion. So was the sociopath comment. I just don't see the point of glorifying the downfall of anything.



swiss family

Sorry.."Jake"... but it is not hate that is being displayed.. it is the need for Justice...this scum killed a pregnant woman, after he raped and sodomized her, and then killed her and her baby and ultimately her husband.. do you really think it is wrong to take this monsters life to escalate his meeting with his maker so that God can distribute his Justice??

The main difference between what he did and what his death did, as I see it, is that this scum knew he deserved punishment.. and the woman did not.. and this monster knew his fate 2 years ago, so it should not have been a big surprise to him, whereas, the woman did not know what was going to happen, and he thrived on that and her inability to protect herself...I also believe that you might be" blowing smoke" I believe that, had this same thing had happened to your family or friend or neighbor, where someone took advantage of a defenseless person, I think you would seek the same justice that these bloggers are supporting my opinion


The only problem I see was that they didnt record this and start handing out copies to local schools and county jails to one educate the people that this is nothing we take lightly and if YOU decide to go that route, well this may be happening to you as well.. Seems like a good tool to use if ya ask me.. Ya know like the old days when you'd go to church, then after that head to the city square and watch the hangings...I believe if this is done more publicly our own crime rate would drastically...


@JakeMac25-Uemployed, uneducated haters? You are ashamed to be our neighor? Then you proclaim that the comments here should be positive. I believe that makes you a HYPOCRITE.
If two men are fighting and they strike a pregnant woman and her children are born prematurely, but there is no harm, he is certainly to be fined as the husband of the woman demands of him, and he will pay as the court decides. 23 If there is harm, then you are to require life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, and bruise for bruise. Exodus 21:24
I personally wish we could drop criminals off in a remote location together, and let them take care of each other. That would solve a lot of the problems with our current criminal justice system, and debate over capital punishment. Thank you for the prayers!


Bringing attention to a problem while saying I wish people were more positive doesn't make me a hypocrite. I said I was ashamed of the people making the comments. That doesn't mean I hate them or want bad things to happen to them. That doesn't make me anything than the guy who noted something that they may not have previously known. I made two statements based off of facts.

Here is the report by the US Department of Labor about High Unemployment rates and education levels...

And the facts about Sociopaths came from a book titled, "The Sociopath Next Door" by Dr. Martha Stout.

The Bible explained in Matthew what an eye for an eye meant..

Matthew 5:38–42


38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

Another way to think about it; "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind"

Your idea about dropping them all off together and letting them take care of themselves is a good idea and has been tried a couple times throughout history. I believe the French used New Orleans for this and the English used Australia with both sending in Priest and Nuns after they send in the criminals.

Cliff Cannon

@ JakeMac25 : A few points you might enjoy. We know that " Thomas Jefferson " ( thanks to her being 'outed' by 'Swiss Family ') is female.( We also know she is one very smart female.) Which is another way of saying one better keep their ducks in a row, when debating the fairer gender or else suffer the consequence's. Which, thankfully for you, you did.

Then consider,that the real Thomas Jefferson was one of just 2 American Presidents that had no formal religious affiliation. The other being perhaps the most forgiving man to ever enter the White House--- Abraham Lincoln. So doesn't that say a ton about keeping an open mind ?

Further, I wondered if you bothered to read 'swiss family's' latest diatribe ? Now correct me, if I am wrong. We both unequivocally stated our opinions', true ? We both explained our positions. Then we basically shook hands---- I apologized for harshness--- you accepted that apology and we went our separate ways, correct ?

Yet, here I am/ we are getting slammed for debating like gentleman ! Isn't that rather absurd ? It also illustrates why mankind fights so many wars ( be it with themselves, family, other nations, etc ) Because the notion's of forgiveness, moving on or allowing other people to be 'different' is so foreign to the small minded human. That they think they must fight. Yet, what do they ever accomplish ?

Which comes back to the truth of your quote from Gandhi-- "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind". ( Of course,we all know how life turned for this man of peace & understanding, who sought vainly to keep 2 of the world's great religion's from wanting to kill one another )

May I conclude with this ? Supposedly the 3 hardest words to say in the English language, are " I was wrong " Don't you believe it ! They are actually the 3 vainest words in the language. Why ? Because what your really saying is " you just taught me something and now I am a better person because of it "

Great day to you and good luck debating Thomas Jefferson, because chances are you going to need it. :)

swiss family

I agree... I think that if we were to put them in a helicopter, and fly them out over any Ocean, and once you are in the middle of no where,, with no land in sight, push them out.... that way you did not actually kill them, if they can't swim that far , that is their problem.. if they attract some sharks attention.. so be it... if they can swim to any land... good for them....


As soon as they can completely rehab the victim you can rehab the perp!

swiss family

sorry "Jake" but your views and opinions on this are misguided at best.This garbage chose to do his crime, he decided to pick on a helpless pregnant woman, he decided to assault her in every demeaning way possible. He could see that she was obviously pregnant, and probably that was the determining factor from this "puss", because he was NOT man enough to pick on someone who could match his strength and agility

You obviously struck a nerve with our local "puss". and even went so far as to get him to apologize to you, for expressing his opinion. The rest of us, will not back down from you , we will not try to make cheap shots about whatever Religion you might be, to us.. WE DON"T CARE..we believe in Justice, and in God as well...Jesus cherished the children, and spoke to them and of them a lot.. I am pretty sure that He would be as outraged as we are that this garbage decided to end not only a pre born baby's life, but the Mom and Dad as well.

I, for one will not apologize for disagreeing with you..I believe that we are to Give unto God what is His, and Give unto Caesar, what belongs to him... In my opinion ... we are justified in seeking worldly justice for the heinous acts from this scum, and I will not apologize if you think otherwise...See I actually have opinions and am not afraid to say them ..I have ideas and am not worried that it will step on someone's toes... you hit the "weak link" in my opinion, the guy who is so weak and out of touch that he actually thinks that he needs to apologize for his tapered down will not get that from me... and not from the other 98% of "bloggers" either...We know it is our right to have an opinion, with NO apologies....