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Ohio puts executions on hold in legal battle

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Gov. Ted Strickland on Monday delayed the state's next two executions to allow a review of lethal injection procedures, the latest in a series of unprecedented capital punishment developments in Ohio.

Strickland ordered the reprieves for Lawrence Reynolds, scheduled to be executed Thursday, and Darryl Durr, scheduled to die next month, in the midst of a legal battle over Reynolds' execution.

Reynolds' execution was delayed until March 9, Durr's until April 20. Strickland said the Ohio Corrections Department needed more time to finish updating protocols for dealing with long delays in finding suitable veins on inmates.

The surprise announcement Monday came as the U.S. Supreme Court weighed whether to allow Reynolds' execution, for strangling his 67-year-old neighbor in 1994, to proceed. Earlier Monday, a panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had delayed the execution, citing problems with the planned Sept. 15 execution of Romell Broom.

Strickland stopped Broom's injection after executioners failed to find a vein after two hours. Until it was halted, the execution had taken the longest in Ohio to date, and Strickland's order to stop it was unprecedented nationally since the country resumed executions in the 1970s.

Ohio has put 32 people to death since 1999, when executions resumed in the state.

Strickland said prison staff has been researching backup or alternative procedures for lethal injection since Sept. 15 that would comply with Ohio law.

"Although they have made substantial progress in this regard, more research and evaluation of backup or alternative procedures is necessary before one or more can be selected," he said.

Death penalty experts say it could be months before it's clear what effect Broom's case could have on executions elsewhere.

Ohio puts executions on hold in legal battle 10/05/09 [Last modified: Monday, October 5, 2009 10:46pm]
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