Filing: Improper prep before failed Ohio execution

COLUMBUS (AP) — One of the executioners involved in last year’s botched attempt to put a man to death was under-trained and failed to attend all the required rehearsals for the Sept. 15 execution, lawyers said in court filings.

The employee’s prison job does not require him to establish IV connections on a regular basis and he has not regularly established an IV outside of executions since 2004 and not at all in the past year, according to a filing by condemned inmate Romell Broom, whose executed was halted by Gov. Ted Strickland, and a related filing by inmates challenging Ohio’s injection method.

The executioner known as Team Member 21 is a full-time prison employee and licensed emergency medical technician who has not worked as an EMT for several years, according to the documents filed in U.S. District Court in Columbus on Friday.

The filing by inmates challenging the injection method also said the prison system has consistently permitted executioners who didn’t receive the required training or missed rehearsals to participate in executions anyway.

Gov. Ted Strickland stopped Broom’s execution after two hours and Broom has sued to prevent a second attempt. Broom’s attorneys say the execution proved there’s no guarantee Broom can receive the “quick and painless” death required under Ohio law and the state constitution.

“Whether a condemned prisoner receives a ’quick and painless’ and constitutional execution cannot depend on who is on the team that day, whether they were allowed to skip some or all of the trainings/rehearsals, or whether required qualifications have been let to slide,” Broom’s lawyers said in their court filing.

Messages were left with the prisons department and the Ohio Attorney General’s office. The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction has repeatedly said it’s comfortable with the training and skills of its executioners.

The state does not release the names of its executioners. Team Member 21 gave an anonymous statement to attorneys in October following the failed Broom execution.

Broom, 53, was convicted of kidnapping, raping and killing 14-year old Tryna Middleton in 1984. He complained in an affidavit following the execution attempt that his executioners painfully hit muscle and bone during as many as 18 attempts to reach a vein.

Two months later, the state announced it was switching to an execution method involving a single dose of a powerful anesthetic and a backup method involving injecting two drugs directly into muscle.

The state had two goals in changing its process. Switching to one drug was meant to end a 5-year-old lawsuit that claims Ohio’s three-drug system was capable of causing severe pain. Injection experts and defense attorneys agree the single dose of thiopental sodium will not cause pain.

The backup procedure allowing muscle injection was created in case a situation like Broom’s execution happens again.

Ohio has executed two men since the failed Broom execution using the one-drug method. Both died in about the same time it took when Ohio used a three-drug combination.

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