Human Rights

Ohio Gets to Try to Execute Prisoner Again After Horrifying First Attempt Was Botched

State court rules that a new attempt will not be cruel and unusual punishment, despite Romell Broom's screams of agony.

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The details of the first attempt by the state of Ohio to kill Romell Broom are horrifying to read.

Court documents recount how three different medical team members made eight unsuccessful attempts to stick a catheter into into a vein, one of which “caused Broom to scream aloud from the pain.” More attempts were made, with medical team members even taking breaks at points, then starting again, “inserting catheter needles into already swollen and bruised sites.” At one point, his arms riddled with puncture wounds, Broom began to cry. After two hours, and at least 18 different instances of medical team staffers stabbing catheters in his arms and failing to find a vein, the execution ground to a halt. Governor Ted Strickland issued a temporary reprieve and Broom returned to death row, where he remains today.

Now, the Ohio State Supreme Court has ruled that the state can try again.

Lawyers for Broom, a convicted rapist and murderer of 14-year-old Tryna Middleton, argued that a second execution attempt would be cruel and unusual punishment and double jeopardy. The Ohio Supreme Court disagreed, stating that because the lethal drugs never made it into Broom’s veins the first time, a second attempt would not violate the constitution.

"Because Broom's life was never at risk since the drugs were not introduced, and because the state is committed to carrying out executions in a constitutional manner, we do not believe that it would shock the public's conscience to allow the state to carry out Broom's execution," Judge Judith Ann Lanzinger wrote.

Judge Judi French, according to CBS News, wrote in a dissenting opinion, "If the state cannot explain why the Broom execution went wrong, then the state cannot guarantee that the outcome will be different next time."

Broom’s is not the first case of executions gone terribly wrong, though he is the first person to live another day after a lethal injection attempt.

No date has been set for Broom’s execution. His lawyers have not stated whether or not they will appeal.

"Any fair reading of the record of the first execution attempt shows that Broom was actually tortured the first time," Justice William O'Neill wrote in his dissent. "Now we embark on the task of doing it again." 

Kali Holloway is a senior writer and the associate editor of media and culture at AlterNet.

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