Meridian Star

National News

December 8, 2009

(11:05 a.m.) Ohio Execution

ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS,Associated Press Writer

LUCASVILLE, Ohio (AP) — Ohio has begun final preparations for executing the first person in the U.S. to die by lethal injection with a single drug rather than a three-drug method.

The execution of Kenneth Biros, originally scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday, was expected to begin about 11 a.m. following a delay while Biros awaited word from the U.S. Supreme Court on a last and unsuccessful emergency appeal.

In a brief statement Tuesday, the court said it was denying Biros' request for a stay of execution.

Biros had argued the state's new method would be painful. The state's switch to one drug was meant to end a lawsuit that claims the three-drug system could cause severe pain, and experts have agreed that the single anesthetic will not cause pain.

Biros would become the first person in the U.S. to die by lethal injection with a single drug, a process most death penalty experts agree will take longer than the old method.

Ohio inmates generally have taken about seven minutes to die after injection.

The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction estimates it will take from 15 to 30 minutes for Biros to die, prisons spokeswoman Julie Walburn said Tuesday.

"Every person's body absorbs drugs and processes them differently, but we don't really expect a demonstrative difference," she said.

Anesthesiologist Mark Dershwitz, who consulted with Ohio, estimated death could now come after 15 minutes.

Biros' procedure would be the first lethal injection since the state's switch last month from using a three-drug combination. If that method fails, a backup plan allows executioners to inject drugs directly into muscles instead of veins.

Walburn said Tuesday that executioners will move to that backup sooner rather than later.

"They will make a reaonsable attempt to insert the IV lines, but given that we have a backup system in place now with intramusuclar injection, we certainly don't anticipate that we would attempt that process as long as we have in the past," she said.

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