Michael Beuke is to be murdered Thursday morning by employees of the State of Ohio as revenge for the murder of Robert Craig and the attempted murders of Gregory Wahoff and Bruce Graham back in 1983.
If it happens, and it seems likely that it will, Beuke's will be the fifth state murder in Ohio this year. Assuming Texas does in fact kill Kevin Varga Wednesday night, Beuke's murder will be the seventeenth in the nation this year.
There are, of course, problems.
There's Bruce Graham himself. He survived a gunshot wound from Beuke. In March, he went to the prison to meet the man who tried to kill him. What he found, he said, is a changed man.
After meeting him and seeing him in person, I could tell he was sincere in his apology.
He asked the Parole Board to recommend that Beuke's sentence be commuted.
I do not think one more life taken at this point would solve anything.
This is complicated. Victims shouldn't be in the business of determining punishment, but there's something unseemly about putting the guy to death when a man he tried to kill says, please, don't. In any event, the Parole Board was less charitable than Graham. Its unanimous recommendation to Governor Ted was that Beuke should be killed.
By now we know the routine. Guards will transfer Beuke to the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility at Lucasville. They'll put him in a holding cell and maintain a minute-by-minute log of exactly what he does and says. They'll record every cup of coffee and every time he goes to the toilet to piss it out. They'll note who comes to visit him and for how long. And they'll detail the execution itself.
The plan, of course, is to use a single massive dose of thiopental sodium, a barbiturate, for the murder. Except it turns out that there's a worldwide shortage of
bullets the drug. Hospira Inc., of Lake Forest, Illinois, is the only manufacturer, and they've had some problems. It was mid-afternoon Monday before Ohio managed to track down enough of the stuff.
And even then . . . .
As I pointed out the other day, Beuke takes a barbiturate for a seizure disorder. And a side effect of that is to increase his sensitivity to midazolam, the first drug called for in the never-been-tried backup method. In the simplest terms, that means if Plan A doesn't work, Plan B may not work right, either.
Ohio is already the first (and still so far only) state to have failed in a lethal injection murder. The prospect of screwing it up yet again, this time in previously unimagined fashion, lingers.
It doesn't linger closely enough, however. Tuesday, Judge Frost said that Beuke's lawyers hadn't made a sufficient showing. He refused to stop the killing. It's likely that no one else will, either.
10 a.m. on Thursday. It's become routine. Ohio, in our name, will murder another man.
Next up will be Richard Nields. June 10. There are five more scheduled after that, one a month through November. And then there's Christmas.
It's really not possible to keep pace with Texas, but we're trying. Here are the state-by-state numbers as they are likely to be by Thursday afternoon.
- Texas -8
- Ohio - 5
- Louisiana - 1
- Florida - 1
- Virginia -1