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Governor DeWine Delays Execution of Warren Henness in Response to Federal Court Order

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(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – Today Governor Mike DeWine issued a reprieve of execution for Ohio inmate Warren Henness who was scheduled to be executed on February 13, 2019.  The new date of execution has been moved to September 12, 2019.

Governor DeWine issued the reprieve following the decision and order issued January 14, 2019, by U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael R. Merz that says in part:

“…executing him by Ohio’s current three-drug protocol will certainly or very likely cause him severe pain and needless suffering because of the dose of midazolam intended to be used will not render him sufficiently unconscious as to prevent him from suffering the severe pain caused by injection of the paralytic drug or potassium chloride or the severe pain and needless suffering caused by pulmonary edema from the midazolam itself…

“… this is not a result with which the Court is comfortable.   In 2017, the Court heard extensive evidence that midazolam was not achieving the intended result of blocking the severe pain caused by the second and third drugs…

“…we have good evidence that midazolam will cause the ‘waterboarding’ effects of pulmonary edema.  If Ohio executes Warren Hennes under its present protocol, it will almost certainly subject him to severe pain and needless suffering.  Reading the plain language of the Eighth Amendment, that should be enough to constitute cruel and unusual punishment.”   

Although this decision will be appealed, because of this opinion by U.S. Magistrate Judge Merz, Governor DeWine has issued a reprieve of execution until September 12, 2019.

Governor DeWine has directed the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction to assess Ohio’s current options for execution drugs and examine possible alternative drugs.