Killer Who Gasped And Clutched His Chest During Execution May Have Faked It After Coaching From His Lawyer

Dennis McGuirePolice PhotoDennis McGuire

After receiving a previously unused lethal injection combination, Dennis McGuire didn’t die for 26 minutes — the longest time since Ohio’s reinstatement of the death penalty in 1999. And for about 10 of those, he gasped and clutched his chest, possibly in pain.

But McGuire may have faked the turmoil at the end of his life after coaching from his public defender, Robert Lowe, the Associated Press reports.

State prison records released Monday show McGuire told guards that his counsel told him to make a show of his death that would, perhaps, lead to abolition of the death penalty, the AP reports.

Three personal accounts from prison officials, however, also indicate that McGuire wouldn’t cooperate.

“We have no way of knowing, obviously, because we can’t interview Mr. McGuire,” Amy Borror, a spokeswoman for the public defender’s office, told the AP.

Prison officials had overheard McGuire telling family members that his counsel had encouraged him to make a scene. They alerted Gov. John Kasich’s lawyer the night before the execution, according to a statement from the public defender’s office, the AP reports.

After a weeklong investigation, Tim Young, the officer’s director, however, told the Columbus Dispatch that no one encouraged McGuire to “feign any symptoms.”

A media storm naturally followed McGuire’s execution, questioning whether states should use replacement drugs (like in McGuire’s case) to offset the countrywide shortage of the usual injection, pentobarbital. California and Arkansas have already suspended executions until they can find a replacement, according to the New York Times.

McGuire’s family even sued Hospira Inc., the company responsible for creating the drug combo that killed him. His family claims the company should have known the drug combo would cause him extreme and unnecessary pain and suffering.

McGuire, 53, was sentenced to death for raping and killing a pregnant woman in 1989.

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