Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely young daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.
While filling in for Mark Belling on Newstalk 1130 WISN a few years ago, this death penalty proponent made the observation that even as states were opting to use lethal injections, that the day was coming when even that practice would be deemed cruel and unusual.
That day has arrived. And the mainstream media isn’t hiding its outrage.
Dennis McGuire was executed in Ohio on January 16, 2014, with a combination of drugs never tried before in the United States: 10 mg of midazolam, a sedative; and 40 mg of hydromorphone, an opiate derivative. The state resorted to this mixture after it announced last fall it had run out of pentobarbital that’s normally used in a lethal injection.
McGuire’s lawyers warned something could go wrong, including an onset of “air hunger” where the prisoner would be awake but unable to breathe. An expert hired by the defense predicted McGuire would be terrorized.
Things did not go smoothly.
The Christian Science Monitor reported, “McGuire was quiet for the first five minutes but then began to make ‘loud snorting noises’ and display ‘irregular breathing and gasping’ for at least 10 minutes, an Associated Press reporter who witnessed the execution said. The reporter called it ‘one of the longest executions since Ohio resumed capital punishment in 1999.’ The execution of the convicted killer, during which he gasped and snorted, has revived a brimming debate nationwide about the legality of using untried drug cocktails to complete death sentences.”
“It’s hard to imagine a crueler way to exact punishment,” said John Paul Rian, an attorney for McGuire's family.
McGuire's son, also named Dennis, said "Nobody deserves to go through that."
It took anywhere from 20-25 minutes for McGuire to die. It’s highly likely that he suffered pain and suffering.
But let’s not forget McGuire’s victim.
McGuire was charged and convicted of the rape and murder of 22 year old Joy Stewart.
Stewart, of West Alexandria, a small town in Preble County about 20 miles west of Dayton, was 30 weeks pregnant in 1989 when McGuire raped her, choked her and slashed her throat so deeply that it severed both her carotid artery and jugular vein. At some point, her unborn child died, too, probably in the woods near Eaton where her body was found the next day by two hikers. The baby’s name would have been Carl, his mother’s grave marker shows.
How long did this innocent woman suffer? A lot more than 20 minutes. UNdoubtedly cruel and unusual.
Stewart’s family issued a statement after McGuire was put to death:
“There has been a lot of controversy regarding the drugs that are to be used in his execution, concern that he might feel terror, that he might suffer. As I recall the events preceding her death, forcing her from the car, attempting to rape her vaginally, sodomizing her, choking her, stabbing her, I know she suffered terror and pain. He is being treated far more humanely than he treated her.”
“It’s hard to imagine a crueler way to exact punishment.”
"Nobody deserves to go through that."
“Nobody has a right not to feel any pain during an execution,” John McAdams, a professor of political science at Marquette University in Milwaukee told the Christian Science Monitor. “The fact that a particular form of execution may sometimes be blundered does not make it unconstitutional.”
But with another Ohio execution planned in March, the news media will continue to shower more sympathy on the killer.