Ohio executions have been put on hold for 2 1/2 months after a federal judge allowed more time for arguments over the state's new lethal injection procedures.
The order, in place until Aug. 15, delays executions scheduled for July and August while attorneys prepare filings about the state's decision to boost the dosages of its lethal injection drugs.
The one-page order by Columbus federal judge Gregory Frost on Tuesday affects the state's latest death penalty policy change, which was announced in late April. Ohio uses two drugs injected simultaneously in executions. The policy change considerably increases the amount of the sedative and raises the amount of the painkiller.
The procedure update followed the Jan. 16 execution of Dennis McGuire, who repeatedly gasped during the record 26 minutes it took him to die.
The state said in April it was making the changes "to allay any remaining concerns" after McGuire's execution, though it stood by the way he was put to death.
The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction said its review of McGuire's execution determined he was asleep and unconscious a few minutes after the drugs were administered and his execution was conducted in a constitutional manner.
"He did not experience pain, distress or air hunger after the drugs were administered or when the bodily movements and sounds occurred," the state said.
Frost's order delays the July 2 execution of Ronald Phillips, sentenced to die for the rape and death of Sheila Marie Evans, his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter, in Akron in 1993. It's the second delay for Phillips, whose execution last fall was postponed while he unsuccessfully requested to donate organs to family members.
The order also delays the Aug. 6 execution of William Montgomery, who shot 20-year-old Debra Ogle and her 19-year-old roommate Cynthia Tincher in 1986.
Messages were left for attorneys for Phillips and Montgomery. The attorney general's office said it would follow the judge's order, said spokeswoman Lisa Hackley. The federal public defender's office, which handles lethal injection filings, declined to comment.
Following the end of the moratorium, the next execution is Oct. 15, when Raymond Tibbetts is scheduled to die for the 1997 fatal stabbing of Fred Hicks in Cincinnati. Tibbetts, 56, was also sentenced to life without parole for the stabbing death of Judith Crawford, his wife and Hicks' live-in caretaker, the same day.
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