Family of Executed Ohio Man Plans to Sue State; Lawmaker Says Governor Should Witness Executions

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The family of Dennis McGuire says it’s suing over his execution. Dennis McGuire Jr. says he and his sister were there to see their father die.

“The agony and terror of watching my dad suffocate to death lasted more than 19 minutes," McGuire said. "It was the most awful moment in my life to witness my dad’s execution. I can’t think of any way to describe it than torture.”

And McGuire says their lawsuit seeks to stop the state not just from using the lethal drugs it used for the first time ever to put his father to death, but from all future executions.

“After watching my dad’s execution, I know what cruel and unusual punishment is," he said. "I witnessed it. No one should die the way my dad did -- no matter the circumstances.”

The troubles that Ohio has had in carrying out executions has led one lawmaker to propose adding to the audience of those witnessing the lethal injection process. State Rep. Bob Hagan is a Democrat of Youngstown who opposes capital punishment.

”I think that because particularly in the cases that we’ve had so many problems with lethal injection in this state, that the governor should be there, the director should be there," Hagan said.

Hagan says since governors have the authority to commute death sentences to life in prison, he feels they should have to watch what happens when they don’t.

“When a governor continues to lead most of the states in executing people and just walks away like it’s out of sight, out of mind, I think sometimes he forgets what his job is," he said.

Since executions resumed in Ohio in 1999, 10 inmates who had been sentenced to death had their sentences commuted by governors -- one by Gov. Bob Taft, five by Gov. Ted Strickland and four by Gov. John Kasich.

Meanwhile, the family of McGuire’s victim, 22-year-old newlywed and mother-to-be Joy Stewart, issued a statement that reads, “He is being treated far more humanely than he treated her. Ultimately, we must all face judgment -- both here on Earth and in heaven. It is time to face his judgment.”

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