COLUMBUS — The state-sponsored execution of a Lima man has been postponed yet again.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine on Thursday issued reprieves of execution for three men currently on death row. Included on that short list was Cleveland Jackson, who was scheduled to die May 29 for the 2002 murders of 17-year-old Leneshia Williams and 3-year-old Jayla Grant in Lima.
Jackson and his half-brother, Jeronique Cunningham, went to an Eureka Street apartment on Jan. 3, 2002, to rob a man of drugs and money. Six of the eight people inside the home were lined up in the kitchen and shot in the head as they begged for their lives, according to court records. The two people died.
An appellate court overturned Jackson’s death sentence in Jayla Grant’s murder, but the death sentence remained in place on Williams’ death.
Jackson was slated to be executed last year, but former Gov. John Kasich delayed the proceeding until May. The order issued Thursday by DeWine set a new execution date for Jackson, 40, of Nov. 13, 2019.
After the controversial execution of killer Dennis McGuire in January 2014, Ohio imposed a three-year moratorium on executions as it worked to find a new lethal-injection protocol and to find suppliers willing to sell the state the drugs.
Since the moratorium was lifted in 2017, Ohio has executed three people using the current three-drug cocktail, all without complications or unexpected problems with the drugs.
However, the execution of Alva Campbell was postponed in November 2017 after several unsuccessful attempts to insert an IV. Campbell died in his cell a few months later.
DeWine, upon taking office earlier this year, issued a reprieve of execution to Warren Henness following the decision and order issued 12 days earlier by U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael R. Merz, which said in part that Ohio’s current use of a three-drug execution mixture was likely to result in “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,” Mertz wrote. “ … If Ohio executes Warren Henness 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.”
DeWine subsequently directed the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction to assess Ohio’s current options for execution drugs and examine possible alternative drugs.
The reprieves were issued by the governor Thursday, according to a statement from DeWine’s office, “because it is highly unlikely that the state’s new execution protocol, which is still in the process of being developed by DRC, would have time to be litigated by scheduled execution dates.”
Other Ohio death row inmates who saw their execution dates pushed back as part of DeWine’s order on Thursday included Kareen Jackson, whose scheduled execution on July 10 was moved to Jan. 16, 2020; and Gregory Lott, who saw his execution delayed from August until March 12, 2020.