Ed FitzGerald Says He Backs Death Penalty, While Other Democrats Support End to Executions

Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald at a Jan. 16 campaign event in Cleveland. (Nick Castele / ideastream)
Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald at a Jan. 16 campaign event in Cleveland. (Nick Castele / ideastream)
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Last week Dennis McGuire, who raped and murdered a pregnant woman in 1989, was put to death. But his execution made headlines around the country after news outlets reported that McGuire appeared to be distressed and gasping for air.

Democratic State Rep. Nickie Antonio of Lakewood, who ultimately wants to abolish the death penalty, says the state must thoroughly review what happened to McGuire and find out if his death was unconstitutional.

“The use of the death penalty and execution in the state of Ohio -- especially in the way it was handled and operationalized this last time -- just shows us that execution cannot be humane,” Antonio said.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate and Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, agrees that there must be a thorough review of McGuire’s execution. But he says he does not want to get rid of capital punishment.

“I do not oppose the death penalty," FitzGerald said. "I think there are times when the death penalty is called for and I understand there are moral concerns -- and legitimate moral concerns -- about it and I respect the people that have a different opinion on that. But my opinion really grows out of my experience as both a special agent with the FBI and a prosecutor.”

Antonio recognizes the internal debate among Democrats over whether or not the death penalty should be abolished. Aside from her moral objections, Antonio believes capital punishment costs the state more compared to a sentence of life without parole.

The ACLU of Ohio has also called for a moratorium on executions.

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction did not want to comment on the issue until after they complete their review of McGuire’s execution. A spokesperson says it is likely that the review will be finished before the next scheduled execution on March 19.

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