COLUMBUS, Ohio—Gov. Mike DeWine has yet again postponed upcoming execution dates for three convicted murderers, and will continue to delay other executions until Ohio prison officials can end their years-long struggle to obtain lethal-injection drugs that pass court muster, a spokesman for the governor said Friday.
Death-row inmates Gregory Lott, John Stumpf, and Warren “Keith” Henness each had their execution dates delayed by more than a year by DeWine. All three have had their executions dates moved back repeatedly by DeWine and his predecessor, ex-Gov. John Kasich.
It’s the seventh time that DeWine, a Greene County Republican, has issued an order pushing back execution dates since he took office a little more than a year ago. DeWine said last year that there will be no more executions in Ohio until the state can resolve its continuing problems with finding a pharmaceutical company willing to sell drugs for use in executions.
The governor has repeatedly expressed his concern that if companies find that Ohio used its drugs to put people to death, they will refuse to sell any of its drugs (not just the ones used in executions) to the state. That would endanger the ability of thousands of Ohioans – such as Medicaid recipients, state troopers, and prison inmates – to get drugs through state programs.
In addition, DeWine said he was concerned about a judge’s ruling last year in Henness’ case suggesting that the lethal-injection drugs Ohio had been using were unconstitutional because they produced a painful drowning sensation comparable to the torture tactic of waterboarding. That ruling was later overturned on appeal, but it still gives DeWine pause.
When asked if DeWine would keep issuing executions postponements indefinitely, his spokesman Dan Tierney said the reprieves would continue as needed until the problem is resolved.
“If the situation doesn’t change, you can assume accordingly,” Tierney said.
Lott’s execution date was moved from March 12 of this year to May 27, 2021. Lott killed John McGrath, an 82-year-old East Cleveland man, in 1986 after robbing him, beating him, tying him up, then setting him on fire.
Stumpf, who had been scheduled to die on April 16, has a new execution date of Sept. 15, 2021. He was convicted in 1984 of fatally shooting Mary Jane Stout during a robbery attempt in Guernsey County.
Henness’ execution date was postponed from May 14 of this year to Jan. 12, 2022. The Columbus man is on Death Row for kidnapping and murdering his drug-abuse counselor, Richard Myers, in 1992.