Ohio plans to resume executions in January with a new three-drug combination after an unofficial three-year moratorium blamed on shortages of lethal drugs, an attorney representing the state told a federal judge Monday. Thomas Madden with the Ohio attorney general's office said the state will use the drugs midazolam, which puts the inmate to sleep; rocuronium bromide, which paralyzes the inmate; and potassium chloride, which stops the heart. He said the drugs are not compounded and are FDA approved. The US Supreme Court upheld the use of such a combination in a ruling last year regarding Oklahoma's execution protocols. Madden told Columbus federal Judge Edmund Sargus that a new execution policy will be announced at the end of the week. The AP was the only media outlet present at the court hearing.
Attorneys representing death row inmates say they'll file a new challenge almost immediately. Ohio hasn't put anyone to death since January 2014, when Dennis McGuire repeatedly gasped and snorted during a 26-minute procedure using a never-before-tried two-drug combo. The state also used midazolam in McGuire's execution, making it disappointing that Ohio would again turn to that drug, said Allen Bohnert, a federal public defender representing several death row inmates. Monday's development opens the way for the execution of Ronald Phillips for the rape and murder of his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter in Akron in 1993. The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction said it plans to proceed with the Phillips execution after filing the new execution protocol with the judge. Ohio has more than two dozen inmates with firm execution dates sitting on death row, with executions scheduled out as far as October 2019. (Read more execution stories.)