Saturday, June 12, 2004

New suit challenges drugs used in lethal injection

The Associated Press

COLUMBUS - The Ohio Public Defender's Office has filed a new suit challenging of injections to execute convicted killers in the state.

The suit filed Thursday in federal court argues that pain caused by chemicals used in the injections torture inmates and violate constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment.

"We're arguing that there's too great of a risk that Ohio's lethal drug cocktail is actually torturing guys to death in ways we cannot see," said Greg Meyers, head of the public defender's office capital crimes division.

Thesuit was filed on behalf of death row inmates Adremy Dennis and Richard Cooey, both convicted in Summit County in northeast Ohio.

Meyers' office unsuccessfully filed a similar suit in December on behalf of convicted killers Lewis Williams and John Glenn Roe, both of whom have since been executed.

A U.S. Supreme Court decision earlier this year strengthens the ability to raise the issue, Meyers said Friday. The country's highest court ruled in May for the first time that a death row inmate can pursue a last-ditch claim that lethal injection is unconstitutionally cruel.

"This is not a new claim," said Bob Beasley, spokesman for Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro. "Here and throughout the country this method of lethal injection has passed tests in the courts, including the Supreme Court."

The public defender's office argues a paralyzing drug used in executions, pancuronium bromide, does not dull sensation and exposes inmates to excruciating pain caused by two other drugs to induce suffocation and heart failure.

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