CINCINNATI — The State of Ohio plans to try again next week to execute a
convicted rapist-murderer, after a team of technicians spent two hours on
Tuesday in an unsuccessful effort to inject him with lethal drugs.
This is the first time an execution by lethal injection in the United States has
failed and then been rescheduled, according to Richard C. Dieter, executive
director of the Death Penalty Information Center, in Washington.
The only similar case in modern times, Mr. Dieter said, occurred in Louisiana in
1946, when electric shock failed to kill a convicted murderer, Willie Francis.
He was electrocuted the next year, after the United States Supreme Court ruled
that executing a prisoner in the wake of a failed first attempt was
Tuesday’s one-week postponement was ordered by Gov. Ted Strickland after he was
alerted by the Ohio corrections department that technicians at the state prison
in Lucasville, some 70 miles east of Cincinnati, had struggled for more than two
hours to find a suitable vein in either the arms or the legs of the inmate,
Romell Broom, 53.
In a log reviewed by The Associated Press, the executioners attributed their
troubles to past intravenous drug use by Mr. Broom. Amanda Wurst, a spokeswoman
for the governor, said that Mr. Broom had once told officials he had been an IV
drug user but that he had later recanted. His lawyers said they were not aware
of any IV drug use.
Mr. Broom was convicted of the 1984 abduction, rape and killing of Tryna
Middleton, 14, who had been walking home from a football game in Cleveland with
His lawyers described what happened Tuesday as torture and said they would try
to block the execution. One of them, Adele Shank, said: “He survived this
execution attempt, and they really can’t do it again. It was cruel and unusual
Ms. Shank watched Tuesday’s procedure on closed-circuit television. “I could see
him on the screen,” she said, “and it was apparent to me that he was wincing
The Ohio chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union said Wednesday that the
state must abolish lethal injection.
“This is the third screwed-up execution in three years,” said Jeffrey M. Gamso
of the A.C.L.U. of Ohio. “They keep tweaking their protocol, but it takes more
than tweaks. They don’t know how to do this competently, and they need to stop.”
In referring to two previous troubled executions in Ohio, Mr. Gamso was speaking
of the death of Joseph Clark in 2006, delayed more than an hour because of
problems with IV placement, and the 2007 execution of Christopher Newton, also
delayed more than an hour while technicians tried at least 10 times to insert
The director of the state corrections department, Terry J. Collins, said he and
his staff were seeking the advice of doctors and others to plan for a successful
execution next Tuesday.
“I won’t have discussions about ‘what if it doesn’t work next week’ at this
point,” Mr. Collins said, “because I have confidence that my team will be able
to do its job.”
Kent Scheidegger, legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, which
supports the death penalty, said problems with veins were inevitable in lethal
injection by IV.
Mr. Scheidegger said he favored execution methods involving intramuscular
injection or a return to gas chambers, but with a poison other than cyanide,
which was long under attack because of the suffering it can inflict.
Mr. Dieter, of the Death Penalty Information Center, said that given the
likelihood of legal appeals, there was little chance that Mr. Broom would be put
to death next Tuesday.
“The question of whether this is still an acceptable punishment in our society,”
he said of executions generally, “is compounded by this mistake.”