Ohio Uses Single Drug to Execute Killer

States coping with nationwide shortage of usual drug
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 10, 2011 4:18 PM CST
Ohio Uses Single Drug to Execute Killer
This undated photo provided by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction shows convicted murderer Johnnie Baston.   (AP Photo/Ohio Dept. of Rehabilitation and Correction)

Ohio today became a ground-breaker in how to execute criminals despite the nationwide shortage of sodium thiopental following the discontinuation of the drug by its sole producer: Officials executed a convicted murderer—37-year-old Johnnie Baston—with just one drug, pentobarbital. It's traditionally used to put down dogs, cats, and horses, and has not been fully researched for the execution of humans.

However, that didn't stop Oklahoma from using it in a December execution, albeit as part of a cocktail meant to approximate the one sodium thiopental was used in. Prison officials said that Baston's execution went smoothly and was "identical to previous procedures." But public defender Tim Young, who had represented Baston, called pentobarbital "an untested protocol and an untested drug. We've had three botched executions in this state already and now we're moving to something untried. There is a risk." (More execution stories.)

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