COLUMBUS — Ohio officials are going to have to consider execution methods other than lethal injection, although they won't discuss which ones.
Gov. Mike DeWine said Wednesday morning that state prison officials are finding it impossible to line up any company willing to supply drugs for a new lethal-injection method to replace a protocol essentially declared cruel and unusual punishment.
Then Wednesday evening, DeWine announced that he was again delaying the execution of Warren Keith Henness, a Columbus man convicted of the 1992 slaying of a man from Circleville. Henness had been slated to die Sept. 12. His new date is May 14, 2020.
DeWine said he would talk to General Assembly leaders about whether legislation allowing a different execution method should be pursued.
Some Ohio death row inmates have been asking to be executed by firing squad — which was used in Utah in 2010 — while two Tennessee inmates last year opted to be executed in the electric chair. Ohio's "Old Sparky" has been in storage for years.
DeWine delayed four executions early this year after a federal judge in Dayton said Ohio’s current intravenous protocol would “almost certainly subject (a person) to severe pain and needless suffering.”
Makers of drugs used in executions have said in recent years that they don’t want their products used in executions. Ohio had been buying the drugs through its Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and then driving them down to the death house at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility near Lucasville without telling drugmakers how the substances would be used.
DeWine said the drugmakers have told the state that if they suspect any of their products would be used in executions, they will stop selling to the state altogether, potentially depriving Ohioans of important medicine. Those Ohioans include people who get drugs through the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, state veterans homes, the Department of Youth Services, the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, local addiction-service providers and other agencies.
"If pharmaceutical companies discontinue supplying medications to the state of Ohio for these populations that are currently being served, it would put tens of thousands of our citizens at risk," DeWine said. "Drugs they need for their health will be put in peril."
Asked whether executions scheduled to resume this year will occur, DeWine said the matter is under review.