Cruel and Unusual

Untested Drugs Execute Killer

At 10:29 a.m. Thursday morning, convicted murderer Dennis McGuire received an untested combination of two drugs to kill him. For the next 20 minutes, McGuire struggled and gasped loudly for air, "making snorting and choking sounds...with his chest heaving and his fist clenched," The Columbus Dispatch reports. McGuire's attorneys unsuccesfully argued the drugs could cause him to die painfully, which violates the Constitution's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. McGuire died from an injection of a sedative and a morphine derivative because Ohio couldn't get pentobarbital thanks to Danish restrictions on its distribution for use in capital punishment.