LUCASVILLE, Ohio (AP) -- Death penalty opponents called on the state to halt executions after prison staff struggled to find suitable veins on a condemned man's arm to deliver the lethal chemicals. The execution team stuck Christopher Newton at least 10 times with needles Thursday to insert the shunts where the chemicals are injected. He died at 11:53 a.m., nearly two hours after the scheduled start of his execution at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility. The process typically takes about 20 minutes.
At least the condemned was a good sport about it:
But Newton, who had insisted on the death penalty as punishment and made no attempt to appeal, chatted and laughed with prison staff throughout the delay.
It took so long that the staff paused to allow Newton a bathroom break.
I can see the Monty Python/SNL sketch already:
Executioner: Okay, are we ready? Doctor, have you found a vein?
Executioner: Warden, can we go ahead?
Warden: Do your duty.
Convict: Duty? Duty? Wait a minute! Wait! I need to go to the toilet.
Executioner: Didn't you go before we left the cell?
Convict: I didn't need to go then!
Executioner: Well, can't you hold it for a few minutes? This won't take long.
Convict: No. I need to go now!
Executioner: (Sighs) Okay. Okay. Guard, unstrap him.
Convict: Thanks, I owe you one.
Executioner: Yeah, yeah, whatever. Can we just get on with this? I have to take my kid to soccer practice and I can't stay late tonight.
(Convict and guard shuffle out of death chamber, Executioner, warden, priest, doctor make uncomfortable small talk "how about those Mets, huh?" until convict and guard shuffle back in)
Executioner: Okay, ready? Can we do this now? (convict is strapped in) Bill Smith, you have been convicted of murder in the first degree by a jury of your peers and sentenced by a lawful court to death. Padre, would you administer the last rights?
Priest: Through this holy anointing, may the Lord in his love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy....Uh, can we just pause there for a minute, I need to visit the uh...
Executioner: Oh, for the love of God -- fine! Just hurry it up will you? (to convict) Sorry about the delay, really.
(more uncomfortable silence, guard starts to whistle aimlessly, some lively tune like Oasis' "Live Forever" or Queen's "Who wants to live forever" or even "Live and Let Die" until he notices others scowling at him. Priest returns.)
Priest: Sorry about that, just got caught short, I had a lot of coffee this morning
Executioner: Okay, are we ready now? Bill Smith, you have been convicted of murder in the first degree by a jury of your peers and sentenced by a lawful court to death. Padre, would you administer the last rights?
Priest: Through this holy anointing, may the Lord in his love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit...
(Warden's cell phone rings, Executioner glares at him as it continues to ring. the Warden answers)
Warden: Oh, uh hello Governor...I'm fine, how are you?...really, I'm sorry to hear that. Have you seen anyone about it?..uh-huh...and the ointment is working, is it?...uh-huh...that's great!.....A 78, fantastic!...Uh-huh...uh-huh...no, not yet...okay...okay...right...Really! Gosh that is surprising...well, if that's the way you feel about it...I suppose it is for the best...Well, no, nobody likes to play God, I suppose....Yeah, I'll take care of it...Okay, thanks Governor, I understand... I'll talk to you later...right, okay...bye-bye.
(Warden puts phone back in pocket, resumes stance next to convict strapped to gurney. Executioner continues to stare at him)
Executioner: Well? (Everyone stares at Warden)
Warden:What? Oh! The phone (laughs) yeah, it was the governor. He shot a 78 in the pro-am last week, can you believe it?
(They continue to stare)
Warden: Well, he's going on junket to Hawaii next week and he was thinking of having his hamster put down, since he won't be home to feed it, but I promised to take care of it for him. Executioner: (sighs with relief and starts up again, very quickly) Bill Smith, you have been convicted of murder in the first degree by a jury of your peers and sentenced by a lawful court to death.....
Cross posted from the Woodshed