Death Penalty

Does Ohio get a do-over execution attempt? State's high court to decide

The Ohio Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether the state may try once again to kill Romell Broom, whose first execution was called off after executioners couldn’t find a suitable vein.

The court accepted the case this week, report Mother Jones, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times.

Broom, who was convicted of raping and murdering a teenage girl, tried to assist the execution team during the botched 2009 procedure. He moved his arm up and down, flexed his fingers, and moved rubber tubing up and down his arm, witnesses said.

Broom was stuck with needles 18 times over the course of more than two hours, according to Mother Jones. (Other reports said there were at least 10 needle pricks and the executioners spent more than an hour trying to find a vein.) A prison doctor who was called in to help didn’t succeed in finding a vein either. Ohio’s governor called off the execution after Broom’s lawyer contacted prosecutors.

Mother Jones notes a 1947 Supreme Court case that found “equipment failure” in an execution doesn’t bar a second try. The death-row inmate, Willie Francis, was convicted and sentenced to death at age 16. The electric chair operated improperly, however.

The Supreme Court dissent included this statement from a witness to Francis’ execution: “I saw the electrocutioner turn on the switch and I saw his lips puff out and swell, his body tensed and stretched. I heard the one in charge yell to the man outside for more juice when he saw that Willie Francis was not dying, and the one on the outside yelled back he was giving him all he had. Then Willie Francis cried out, ‘Take it off. Let me breathe.’ Then they took the hood from his eyes and unstrapped him.”

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