An ill Ohio death row inmate’s execution was delayed Wednesday after a suitable vein could not be located for his lethal injection. The state said it will try again at a later date.
Alva Campbell, 69, had been scheduled to die at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio, for killing a teenager during a 1997 carjacking. He reportedly suffers from walking and breathing problems due to a longtime smoking habit, and was provided a wedge-shaped pillow to help him breathe during the execution procedure.
But “attempts by the medical team this morning to gain intravenous access were unsuccessful,” prison spokeswoman JoEllen Smith told HuffPost in a statement. Gov. John R. Kasich issued a reprieve after consulting with state officials, Smith said, and “a new execution date will be set in the formal reprieve documents” to be issued later Tuesday.
The reprieve was only the third time in U.S. history an execution has been called off after it began, according to The Associated Press.
“We’re not going to rush to execute,” Gary Mohr, head of the state Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, told the Toledo Blade. “We’re just taking our time and I think that’s fine.”
Earlier, the U.S. Supreme Court and Kasich had refused to intervene in the death sentence. With his health problems in mind, Campbell suggested the state execute him by firing squad.
The ACLU of Ohio on Wednesday called the failed execution “nearly two hours of torture” for the inmate. State officials, however, said medical personnel spent about 25 minutes trying to insert an IV during the execution procedure.
“This marks the fifth botched execution for Ohio in recent years, and the second time the state could not complete an execution,” the ACLU’s senior policy director, Mike Brickner, said in a statement. “Today the state made a spectacle of a man’s life, and the cruel and unusual practice of lethal injection must end.”
Campbell ate what was to have been his last meal ― pork chops, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, greens and sweet potato pie ― and spent the morning praying and watching TV, according to prison officials. The institution’s medical team checked Campbell’s veins during a morning evaluation and determined they were accessible.
In 2009, the execution of Romell Broom was called off at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility after medical personnel similarly failed to locate a vein.