January 16, 2014

"Executed Ohio killer Dennis McGuire took 15 minutes to die with never-before-tried drugs."

AP reports. Top-voted comment at The Daily News: "Unfortunate, that it only took 15 minutes for him to suffer not 15 hours."

47 comments:

Scott said...

George Orwell's two minutes hate played out in Ohio.

Minnesota outlawed the death penalty in 1911, after a botched execution by hanging in Ramsey County. Apparently in these modern times we can't muster even a little revulsion at the inhumane treatment of prisoners.

AJ Lynch said...

It is astounding this news story was so sympathetic to a murderer who avoided justice for ten years after the murder. He killed the 8month pregnant woman in 1989 but was not convicted until 1999. The story also neglected to tell us much about the crime and why he did it or about the victim.

So I don't give a damn about his suffering or his kids's agony watching the execution.

tim in vermont said...

Well Scott, thanks for the Wikipedia link to "Two Minute Hate" I am quite sure nobody would have gotten the reference without it. Not sure what your point is, or how the concept of "Two Minute Hate" applies to disgust for a murderer, perhaps you can expand a little?



tim in vermont said...

He could have easily spared his children the agony by not committing murder.

Sorun said...

It's a fair assumption he was completely unconscious. Therefore, it isn't inhumane. If you've been put under for surgery, you know how quickly it goes.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

It took a lot longer than 15 minutes, if you count the appeals process.

Ann Althouse said...

Executions reflect on us. It doesn't matter what the person did. We must give him due process, and we must refrain from cruel and unusual punishment. These are our values, and the government cannot cross those lines. This is about all of us.

Ann Althouse said...

If the process took too long, more than what is due and more that what it should be, then it is up to us to improve the process. The faults in our process are not a basis for adding punishment to the convicted person, and even if they were, it wouldn't authorize cruel and unusual punishment.

Ann Althouse said...

(These are easy legal questions, and they're not hard moral/philosophical questions either.)

SJ said...

A firing squad would be quick, if the guys holding the rifles know what they are about.

Don't know how quick a lethal dose of morphine is, but he wouldn't feel much pain...

jacksonjay said...


Oh Hell!

Oh well.

Sorun said...

States with the death penalty employ someone to manage it. About 20% of government employees are competent.

Hagar said...

There is at least some dignity in the execution of a condemned person by the traditional method of hanging.
(Though, of course, that too can be botched up, such as what happened to Tom Ketchum in 1899.)

The various "humane" methods that are employed, are not only no more "humane" for the offenders, but also look like pathetic attempts on our part to avoid responsibility for our decisions.

n.n said...

Why not abort him? Send him to Planned Parenthood. The chemicals used for lethal injection and the tools used for dismemberment have been tested on nearly 200 million human lives (victims and contractors) since its normalization. They have been proven extremely effective in killing their intended victims and a minority of the contractors. Abortion has earned the notorious reputation that it exceeds the efficiency of war or genocide to terminate human lives.

LCB said...

There have been several cases where over-zealous DA's have convicted innocent men of murder...only to have DNA evidence clear them years later.

Even with DNA available now, I still believe this continues to happen.

That is the reason I'm no longer for the death penalty...the fear that innocent people are executed.

This guy admitted to the crime. And he could have spared his children from watching his execution by telling them not to be there. Maybe he could have even denied them access???

In this case, I'm satisfied that justice was done.

And I agree with Anne: if we're going to execute people, we need to be very sure of our methods.

Fernandinande said...

His attorneys argued McGuire was mentally, physically and sexually abused as a child and has impaired brain function that makes him prone to act impulsively.

All the more reason to kill him.

In cases like this, it'd be cool if the victim's relatives had the opportunity to administer justice as they saw fit.

Jim said...

In Missouri, we executed the killers of Bobby Greenlease less than 100 days after the killing. What man has done, man can do!

William said...

Hospitals transmit infections to their weak and vulnerable patients. Thousands die every year. The institution should be abolished. Perfection is the only standard we should accept in our institutions......I wonder how much pain and suffering was inflicted on the relatives of that murdered woman by allowing her murderer to claim martyr status.

Scott said...

The British had the art of hanging down to a science.

And what's inhumane about chopping off someone's head? The Saudi government does it every day. States could take the severed heads and put them on pikes at their capitol buildings.

Andy Freeman said...

> There have been several cases where over-zealous DA's have convicted innocent men of murder...only to have DNA evidence clear them years later.

So? The number of innocents executed pales compared to the number of innocents who die in prison infirmaries.

Death row is the least likely place to find innocents, so if you're looking there, you're not pro-innocent, you're just anti-death penalty.

MadisonMan said...

Bring back the Guillotine?

A chop off of the head is quick and decisive.

When my brother died -- not executed, but still -- it wasn't a simple on/off switch either. Natural death is by its nature a slow process. Are we to expect death by chemicals to be different?

LCB said...

Death row is the least likely place to find innocents, so if you're looking there, you're not pro-innocent, you're just anti-death penalty.

I think that's what I said when I stated: That is the reason I'm no longer for the death penalty...the fear that innocent people are executed.

Or did you stop reading my post once you decided you didn't like what I was saying???

Besides, to me its more of a punishment to keep someone locked up for life. YMMV

Mark O said...

That's odd. Len Bias died immediately from his first sniff of cocaine.

Maybe.

Darrell said...

There are many people that could fashion a cocktail of readily-available drugs that would have killed him "painlessly" in much less time--probably with a broad smile on his face. Sadly, we never let those people near decision making. The same people who think it is just dandy to tiptoe around the law by partially delivering a baby and then hacking it apart with scissors or metal tubing or anything handy, make these decisions. And everyone is surprised at the outcome.

Sorun said...

How to do a humane execution: Tell the prisoner he's being released and put him in a special room to wait on some "paperwork". Then fill the room with nitrogen gas.

Mark O said...

What process is due? Well, apparently being killed is not cruel and unusual. Being shot is not. Being hanged is not. Being electrocuted is not.

Is dying in an unconscious coma worse than those? Even if it takes 15 minutes?

jacksonjay said...


How about a closed garage and a Ford in running order? Totally painless!

jeff said...

If your arguing against capital punishment, I can support that. If your arguing that he underwent unusual suffering, I didn't see anything in the article that indicates he suffered. I was in the hospital room for both parents deaths and my mom went pretty much the same. My father on the other hand was in incredible pain due to the cancer, so having someone take a nap as he slides into death doesn't sound bad at all.

Skeptical Voter said...

How long did it take for his victims to die. There's a certain proportionality. How long did the unborn child in the victim's womb live after he killed her.

In short I don't give a flying buffalo flop about what the murderer's family felt about the manner of his execution.

madAsHell said...

Len Bias died immediately from his first sniff of cocaine.

....and then he was traded to Cleveland.

Livermoron said...

So you're saying Len Bias took the easy way out?

Rusty said...

Ann. It would only be cruel if it was the intent of the State to make him suffer.
Since the State acted in good faith and the process wasn't immediate I'd say, do better next time.
There is no reason for moral outrage here.

EDH said...

As I've commented before, execution should involve some degree of horror in order to limit its application.

There was a BBC program that looked for the painless way to execute people.

The search for a 'humane' execution

Having ruled out all four methods, mainly because there was a risk of pain, Mr Portillo looked at an alternative, the deprivation of oxygen - hypoxia. It's commonly used in the killing of lab animals because it preserves their body tissue.

He discovered that nitrogen could do the job in about 15 seconds, and the prisoner would not feel pain - on the contrary he would feel euphoric, like being drunk.


I have the opposite fear. If execution becomes painless, it can become routine.

And not just for condemned prisoners.

Andy Freeman said...

>> Death row is the least likely place to find innocents, so if you're looking there, you're not pro-innocent, you're just anti-death penalty.

> I think that's what I said when I stated: That is the reason I'm no longer for the death penalty...the fear that innocent people are executed.

I'm pointing out that your argument doesn't make sense. I'll try again.

Yes, there may be some innocents executed. However, execution isn't the only way people die in prison. Innocents also die in the infirmary of old age or because prison is a dangerous place.

The numbers are such that if you're actually interested in saving innocents from being killed, you'll be working on non-death-penalty sentences.

You're not, so either you're unaware of the numbers or you're preening.

The Drill SGT said...

Ann Althouse said...
If the process took too long, more than what is due and more that what it should be, then it is up to us to improve the process. The faults in our process are not a basis for adding punishment to the convicted person, and even if they were, it wouldn't authorize cruel and unusual punishment.


The anti's take every opportunity to force doctors out of the process, proven drugs out of the process and force the use of new methods, then decry the results.

I agree with a previous poster.

7 men, M-14's, one blank round

alternately hanging works if you make the drop long.

personally, I like the short stake impalement method.

Paul said...

Took 15 minutes?

How long did his victims live?

Used to hanging were NOT done with a drop that snapped the neck.

But if one is so worried about the 15 minutes why not just have a gun in the back of the headrest of the chair he is strapped to and JUST BLOW HIS BRAINS OUT.

See that would make it zero seconds he lived... Actually quite a quick death.

Bloody yes, but he won't suffer!

There are quick ways of death they could use. Stick of dynamite, 10 ton block of concrete dropped on him, hydraulic fired bolt through the head, etc...

n.n said...

Abortion through lethal injection or dismemberment has been determined to be a humane method for terminating an unwanted human life. Why are we wasting resources developing exotic methods for execution when they already exist and are used to terminate over one million human lives annually with nearly perfect efficiency? Not even the military can claim such a superb record of achievement. Those resources could be better deployed to rehabilitate people on welfare, or force Mexico and other nations to be accountable for their large emigrating populations.

I really don't understand why people fret about losing one, one hundred, or even a thousand criminal lives, when everyday we willfully terminate several thousand wholly innocent human lives with only sex, money, ego, or merely personal convenience to justify their premature mortality.

Fen said...

When I'm dictator, murderers will be executed in the same manner they killed their victims.

Birkel said...

If the convicted is not a diabetic, a single dose of insulin is deadly, quick, and as I understand it painless.

But I rather like the 10 ton block of concrete idea.

Captain Curt said...

A real question here: We routinely "put down" animals with injections in a manner that is considered humane. What drug(s) do we use for that and why are they not used for executions?

(I'm not arguing for or against the death penalty here, just asking a nuts-and-bolts question.)

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Only tangentially related, but Richard Epstein's recent article that discusses the problem with dropping the "s" from the 8th Amendment's phrase "cruel and unusual punishments" as Ann does in her comment is here.

heyboom said...

@LCB

Actually, the advancement of DNA testing should make you more pro-death penalty because now you are assured that an innocent is not being executed, right?

Skookum John said...

I think we should bring back Execution by Elephant.

Rusty said...

Mark O said...
What process is due? Well, apparently being killed is not cruel and unusual. Being shot is not. Being hanged is not. Being electrocuted is not.

Is dying in an unconscious coma worse than those? Even if it takes 15 minutes?

I think he whole purpose of having he State handle his is so that emotion doesn't enter into the process. Impersonal, dispassionate and swift. This man will never again harm another human being.

"Thank god for the death penalty. Without it I couldn't control these guys."
Warden. Stateville Prison.

Clyde said...

My sympathy meter must be broken, because it's not moving at all.

Seriously, don't do the crime if you can't do the time.

I think that what our Founding Fathers were talking about regarding "cruel and unusual punishments" were things like drawing and quartering, impalement, burning at the stake, etc., where people were tortured to death, usually for the entertainment of crowds. Those sort of punishments clearly are not something that a modern, enlightened society can countenance. However, there are certain criminal acts that are so heinous that the criminal forfeits his right to life, and the kidnapping, rape and murder that this man was convicted of was such a crime. I don't have any problem with hanging, firing squad or whatever swift method of execution might be used for such a convicted criminal. I don't care if there is some incidental suffering involved, but I also don't care if states choose to use lethal injection or some other "painless" method of execution, as long as justice is done, as it was in this case.

Edmund said...

What's being lost in all this is the fact that they had to change drug cocktails because the manufacturer stopped making it since it was used in executions.

Joseph Blieu said...

nn has it right, send him to Philadelphia and snip his neck with a scissors.