Six men sitting on death row in Ohio will see their executions delayed until 2016 as the state continues to try and implement new lethal injection protocols after a convicted killer writhed for 10 minutes before dying during an execution last year.
Ohio's Department of Rehabilitation and Correction announced the delays in a statement released Friday, citing a need for more time to implement and test the use of sodium thiopental in its lethal injection cocktail.
The drug had been used in state executions from 1999 to 2011, officials said. The previous cocktail, which included midazolam and hydromorphone, was shelved last year after the January 2014 execution of convicted killer Dennis McGuire.
Witnesses to the execution said McGuire was "struggling and gasping loudly for air," and made choking sounds for nearly 10 minutes after the the cocktail was administered.
McGuire's execution was the first in a series of well-publicized instances where a death row inmate appeared to suffer before dying in 2014. In April, convicted Oklahoma killer Clayon Lockett writhed and gasped for 43 minutes before eventually dying of a heart attack during an execution.
Convicted Arizona murderer Joseph Rudolph Wood III was also seen gasping for more than 90 minutes after a lethal injection cocktail was administered in July.
In August, U.S. Judge Gregory Frost ordered a stay on all Ohio executions until 2015. Last week, corrections officials said they would begin using different drugs to execute inmates.
Ronald Phillips, who was scheduled to die next month for the 1993 rape and murder of a child, will be the first inmate to be executed with the new lethal injection cocktail, according to corrections records. His death is slated for January 2016.
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