Sunday, November 3, 2013

Make That Plan C

It was just the other day I wrote that Ohio was going into untried territory.

They couldn't find a compounding pharmacy that was willing to whip up a quick batch of
Ronald Phillips
pentobarbital so they were going to kill Ronald Phillips with a combination of midazolam and hydromorphone. That was the backup system, Plan B.

No one had ever been executed by those two drugs, so who really knew?  Just a little human experiment.  Shoot that mess into his veins and see what happens.

That was so last week.

It turns out that the prison doctor, who as part of Ohio's execution protocol looks for veins that the guards who kill can use to pump the drugs, couldn't find any in his arms.  (NOTE TO AMA and the licensing authorities: The doctor doing that is not part of the process of killing, which would be wrong; he's just part of the process of preparing for killing which is something completely different - just ask the nurse who also participated in the search and also wouldn't have done it if it had anything to do with killing Phillips.)  As the AP reports Phillips said during video testimony in court on Friday, 
I guess the Lord hid my veins from them.
Which if it were true might raise some interesting questions about just how the Lord felt about such things as lethal injection, but I'm a atheist and won't go there.  

In any event, no vein.  What to do? What to do?

Ah, yes, the fallback, Plan C, if you will.  Intramuscular injection!  That'll be the required quick and painless.  Which we know because it's been done so many times before.  Oh, wait, it's never been done.  If nobody's ever executed with these drugs, they're now going to be used via an injection system into muscles - which no executioner has ever tried.

But then, Ohio's demonstrated itself highly skilled in executions.  Take Rommel Broom who, you might recall, is still among the living because they failed to kill him.  And it's versatile, ready to change gears at a moment's notice, making it up as it goes along.  As Judge Frost noted a couple of years ago, in declaring our, er, system unconstitutional,
It is the policy of the State of Ohio that the State follows its written execution protocol, except when it does not.
And they told him Friday that they'll do again.  Plan D, as it were - we'll figure it out as we go along.
The hearing Friday began by focusing on the state's decision to allow the prisons director or death house warden to delegate responsibility for changes in the execution process. That could include any deviation from the policy, down to paperwork documenting a particular step.
Friday's hearing ran until after 8 at night.  Round two begins Monday morning.  The murder of Ronald Phillips is scheduled for November 14.   

Stay tuned.

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