Daughter: Ohio execution most awful moment of life

An Ohio inmate put to death for murder was tortured by his unusually slow execution, the man's daughter said Friday as she announced plans to file a lawsuit over her father's death.
Associated Press
Jan 17, 2014

Dennis McGuire's daughter, Amber, referred to the "agony and terror" of watching her father as he appeared to gasp in his final moments Thursday — using the same words the condemned man's attorneys used in trying to stop his execution using a previously untried method of lethal injection.

"It was the most awful moment in my life to witness my dad's execution," she said in a statement ahead of the news conference. "I can't think of any other way to describe it than torture."

The execution violated Dennis McGuire's constitutional right not to be treated or punished in a cruel or unusual way, said defense attorney Jon Paul Rion, representing McGuire's adult children.

McGuire's attorney Allen Bohnert called the convicted killer's death "a failed, agonizing experiment" and added: "The people of the state of Ohio should be appalled at what was done here today in their names."

It's almost certain lawyers will use McGuire's execution to challenge Ohio's plans to put a condemned Cleveland-area killer to death in March.

McGuire's lawyers had attempted last week to block his execution, arguing that the untried method could lead to a medical phenomenon known as "air hunger" and could cause him to suffer "agony and terror" while struggling to catch his breath.

A few minutes before McGuire was put to death, Ohio prison director Gary Mohr said he believed the state's planning would produce "a humane, dignified execution" consistent with the law.

McGuire, 53, made loud snorting noises during one of the longest executions since Ohio resumed capital punishment in 1999. Nearly 25 minutes passed between the time the lethal drugs began flowing and McGuire was pronounced dead at 10:53 a.m.

Executions under the old method were typically much shorter and did not cause the kind of sounds McGuire made.

Ohio prisons spokeswoman JoEllen Smith had no comment on how the execution went but said a review will be conducted as usual.

Prison officials gave intravenous doses of two drugs, the sedative midazolam and the painkiller hydromorphone, to put McGuire to death for the 1989 rape and fatal stabbing of a pregnant newlywed, Joy Stewart.

The method was adopted after supplies of a previously used drug dried up because the manufacturer declared it off limits for capital punishment.

McGuire's attorney called on Republican Gov. John Kasich to impose a moratorium on future executions, as did a state death penalty opponent group.

The move will likely echo across the country as other states contemplate new drug methods, said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, which opposes capital punishment.

"Judges will now realize that the warnings being raised about these untried procedures are not just false alarms," he said in an email. "States will now have more of a burden to show that they are using a well thought out best practice. "

What was particularly unusual Thursday was the five minutes or so that McGuire lay motionless on the gurney after the drugs began flowing, followed by a sudden snort and then more than 10 minutes of irregular breathing and gasping. Normally, movement comes at the beginning and is followed by inactivity.

"Oh, my God," his daughter, Amber McGuire, said as she watched his final moments.

In pressing for the execution to go ahead, state Assistant Attorney General Thomas Madden had argued that while the U.S. Constitution bans cruel and unusual punishment, "you're not entitled to a pain-free execution."

U.S. District Judge Gregory Frost sided with the state. But at the request of McGuire's lawyers, he ordered officials to photograph and preserve the drug vials, packaging and syringes.

McGuire, strapped to a gurney in the death chamber, thanked Stewart's family members, who witnessed the execution, for their "kind words" in a letter he apparently received from them.

"I'm going to heaven. I'll see you there when you come," he said.

Stewart's slaying went unsolved for 10 months until McGuire, jailed on an unrelated assault and hoping to improve his legal situation, told investigators he had information about the death. His attempts to pin the crime on his brother-in-law quickly unraveled, and he was accused of the killing.

More than a decade later, DNA evidence confirmed McGuire's guilt, and he acknowledged his responsibility in a letter to Kasich last month.

The death row inmate's lawyers argued McGuire was mentally, physically and sexually abused as a child and had impaired brain function that made him prone to act impulsively.

"We have forgiven him, but that does not negate the need for him to pay for his actions," Stewart's family said in a statement after the execution.



Ohio should go back to a firing squad or death by hanging or how about starting up old "sparky". He deserves no mercy. He didn't show the person he killed any and he should be given any.

4-wheeler al

china, they send the family the bill.

Bottom Line

It's refreshing to see so many terrific and accurate comments. Except for Julie R that is.


Get a life. Your father is a convicted murderer and rapist. Be proud of that you idiot.


The death penalty has never brought back a life, never inspired anything but hate, as evidenced by the majority of these comments. It is also unfairly applied and it has killed many innocent people.


thinkagain, unless they are gay ,right...then kill them all....thats what god says, right? Lol!


So what is the answer to having scrum like this walk among us. If it were your family member I bet your reaction would be a little different. Especially since the family of the victim is essentially paying to give this man a free ride (tax payers) after what he has done. Someone who does acts such as the ones he has done needs to be removed.

Pterocarya frax...

I hope for your sake you never have to find out, but, god forbid, if it was your daughter, or your wife that was murdered, would killing the killer really make your life better, or solve your problems, or cure your sadness?

I don't know who said it, but I have always liked the statement:
"Wanting revenge doesn't make it right. It just makes me human"

We as a civilized society need to rise above those feelings.

"I’m here to tell you, as the Mother of a homicide victim, that the death penalty brings as much pain as it does relief, that it creates an entirely new layer of pain."— Janice Greishaber, whose daughter, Jenna, was murdered.

http://ejusa.org/learn/victims Read this site, and then come back and comment.

Pterocarya frax...

As much as it pains me to say it...thinkagain is correct.

"An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind." Gandhi

"Revenge only engenders violence, not clarity and true peace. I think liberation must come from within." Sandra Cisneros


Capital punishment isn't "an eye for an eye" punishment nor is it revenge (though I suspect some victims' families consider it to be such). It is rather an extreme measure ensuring the bad guy doesn't ever get to do bad things again.

Many death sentences have been imposed due in part to the lack of the option of life in prison without the possibility of parole. When faced with the chance certain criminals might ever be loose in society again, juries opted for the ultimate penalty. Many states have now addressed that loophole.

Death sentences also used to be a lot cheaper than incarceration because they were actually carried out. Now the condemned gets a million appeals, stays, and delays.

I remain in favor of the death penalty for those whose crime is bad enough. I do NOT, however, agree with the imposition of the death penalty when someone is found guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt." While that's enough for imprisonment, I believe that death needs to require 100% certainty. In the absence of such certainty, life sentences should be meted out instead.

I would note specific to this case, however, that guilt WAS 100% certain, and that his crimes WERE especially heinous...


How wonderful to read all the comments by people who I'm sure consider themselves to be "Christian". Lol!


How wonderful to read all the comments by people who I'm sure consider themselves to be "idiots". Lol!


Judging by all these judgmental comments, I judge that judging is OK…as long as you’re not a judgmental Christian. ◔_◔






they gave this bozo 2 different drugs, enough to kill him. he may have grunted and groaned and farted, but I bet he felt no pain..


Again....put this to a vote by the populace. Like marihuana being legal, the people want criminals like this destroyed; they value no one except self. Glad he is gone.


I wish they would have televised it. I would give anything to see Curtis Clinton die. Is there a way we can request that?

Pterocarya frax...

Here is a list of the 20 countries that carried out executions in 2012, followed by the number of executions. When we execute people, it puts us in a real elite class, doesn't it?

Afghanistan (14), Bangladesh (1), Belarus (3+), China (2000+), Gambia (9), India (1), Iran (314+), Iraq (129+), Japan (7), North Korea (6+), Pakistan (1), Palestine (6), Republic of China (6), Saudi Arabia (79+), Somalia (6+), South Sudan (5+), Sudan (19+), UAE (1), USA (43), Yemen (28+).


The company we keep.....we should be so proud.


Thank you for posting this list. It's interesting to note that none of these countries including the US have a strong moral foundation or value education as indicated. Conspicuously absent from the list are European nations,South American nations, Central American nations and Canada.

America as a nation appears to be sociopathic.


Ya know, they could dust off Ol' Sparky and bring him outta retirement then all these lowlife scum could RIDE THE LIGHTNING into HELL!

The sooner the better, I say.

NO sympathy here. ONLY for his victims as it took 25 years to rid the world of this monster.


I wish he was still grunting and gasping this morning. Stabs a pregnant newlywed and kills her and the baby ? If he killed my wife , I would have requested that they shoot his loser a$$ After he was dead !?


To tell you the truth, I wish that scum would have taken longer to die. A piece of trash like him should have been put to death years earlier and suffered more for what he did to that poor woman. Rest in he!!


To tell you the truth, I wish that scum would have taken longer to die. A piece of trash like him should have been put to death years earlier and suffered more for what he did to that poor woman. Rest in he!!

Julie R.

From a moral standpoint he deserved to be tortured; however, the law in the state of Ohio says an execution must be carried out in a humane and dignified manner.

His attorneys are going to have a field day.


How is it that a convicted and condemned killers family should be monetarily rewarded because his penalty took too long and he suffered?? That is a bunch of BS if you ask me.


How about the suffering of his victims and the taxpayers which paid to house and feed him for 25 years?