The state of Ohio executed convicted killer Gary Otte Wednesday morning after the US Supreme Court [official website] denied [text, PDF] his request for a stay on Tuesday night. Otte was sentenced [AP report] to death in 1992 for the killing and robbing Robert Wasikowski and Sharon Kostura in Parma, Ohio. The Ohio Supreme Court [official website] had declined [text, PDF] to hear an appeal regarding the death sentence two hours before the scheduled execution time. Ohio Governor John Kasich [official website], also denied Otte clemency. Otte was the second person in Ohio to be executed by lethal injection this year. Prior difficulties in obtaining the lethal injection drugs resulted in a three-year delay in Ohio in which no executions had taken place.
Numerous states have switched to the three-drug protocol, which uses midazolam as a sedative before administering a second drug to paralyze and stop breathing and a third drug to stop the heart. In May the Delaware House of Representatives passed a bill [JURIST report] that would reinstate the death penalty. In February the US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio refused to lift [JURIST report] a preliminary injunction that delayed executions. In December the Mississippi Supreme Court allowed a challenge [JURIST report] to the use of the sedative. Also that month an inmate in Alabama coughed and struggled to breathe for 13 minutes [JURIST report] during the administration of midazolam, which death penalty opponents called an “avoidable disaster.” The US Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Glossip v. Gross [SCOTUSblog materials] in 2015 that Oklahoma’s use of midazolam as part of its lethal injection protocol does not violate [JURIST report] the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment [LII backgrounder].