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Rape, Murder And Sometimes, Justice

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The man pictured above is Dennis McGuire.

He recently made the news when he was executed by the State of Ohio because he took between 15-20 minutes to die, instead of the usual 2 to 8 minutes.

The reason was because the State of Ohio was unable to procure the drugs normally used in the execution when the manufacturer took them off the market, so they used intravenous doses of the sedative midazolam and the painkiller hydromorphone instead.His attorneys had argued against it, arguing that he would suffer ‘air hunger’, where someone experiences immense terror and agony as they strain for breath.

That appears to be what happened.

McGuire’s daughter, Amber, who watched her father die, called what she experienced “agony and terror” of watching her father die as he appeared to gasp in his final moments Thursday. Just a coincidence I’m sure, but she used the used the same words McGuire’s attorneys used in trying to stay his execution. She also described what happened to her father as “torture”, another term her father’s attorneys used. They of course are going to sue the state.

McGuire had a pretty good day up until then. He ate his final meal, which consisted of roast beef, a cream cheese bagel, fried chicken, potatoes two ways, butter pecan ice cream and Coca-Cola. He skipped a shower and breakfast the following morning and had a final visit with his children before the scheduled execution.

He arrived at the place of execution and spent the night writing letters, phoning his mother and sister and visiting with his son and daughter. In other words, he had ample time to prepare for his death, and even told his family, ‘I’m going to heaven, I’ll see you there when you come.’

This all seems poignant and heart rending…until you find out the whole story.

The picture in the lower right hand corner is a photo of 22-year-old Joy Stewart .

She was a newlywed, pregnant with her first baby. In 1989, in Preble County in western Ohio she was kidnapped, raped, sodomized, choked and finally stabbed and left to bleed slowly to death, along with her unborn child.

The crime remained unsolved for 10 months until McGuire, arrested on an unrelated assault charge tried to improve his situation by ratting out a totally innocent person,telling the police he had information about the rape and murder. The man he tried to implicate was none other than his own brother-in-law.

McGuire’s story soon fell apart, and he was tried and convicted. I won’t even soil these pages by telling you about the excuses and strategies his lawyers used to try and get him off, or at least plea bargain. Ten years later, while he was still on death row, his guilt was confirmed by DNA evidence and he finally admitted raping Joy Stewart and and murdering the young mother and her child in a letter to Ohio governor John Kasich -wait for it- asking for clemency and mercy. Kasich, being a decent man refused.

Much is being made of the terror and pain Dennis McGuire suffered because of the ‘air hunger’ method of his execution, and as I mentioned, McGuire’s family will almost certainly attempt to sue the state to collect.

But just imagine, if you will, the terror and pain Joy Stewart suffered..being kidnapped,brutally raped and sodomized, choked repeatedly and then stabbed and left to bleed to death. Imagine how she felt knowing she would never see her husband or her family again, that her baby would die with her and that she was helpless to protect that child. Unlike McGuire, she had no opportunity for that last goodbye, or to prepare herself for death.

I have long been an advocate for capital punishment,because it provides closure for the ones left behind, because it ensures no repeat offenses and because the pain and fear involved back when hanging or the electric chair was commonly used provided a deterrent. The current painless ‘drug cocktail’, together with the years of life now given to murderers because of the amount of time it takes to execute someone has pretty much evaporated any deterrent factor that existed.

Except this time, when for 15 or 20 minutes Dennis McGuire actually felt something of the pain and terror he put his victim through. That’s justice.

As the victim’s sister commented, ‘There has been a lot of controversy regarding the drugs that are to be used in his execution, concern that he might feel terror, that he might suffer.I know she [her sister] suffered terror and pain.’

‘He is being treated far more humanely than he treated her.’

I totally concur.

You see, not only do I not care that he suffered, I’m actually glad that he did, at least to that extent. And while things like drawing and quartering or the rack obviously go a bit far, I have no problem with anyone suffering the amount of pain and terror McGuire did during a death penalty execution. He richly deserved it, and if more murderers did, we would have far fewer of them.


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