Ohio death row inmate Romell Broom was supposed to die by lethal injection on September 15, 2009, but the state botched the execution and he survived. On Wednesday, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled the state will get another chance.
Rejecting arguments that a second execution attempt would amount to cruel and unusual punishment and double jeopardy, the court voted 4 to 3 in favor of allowing the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility to try executing Broom again. During the 2009 failed attempt, the inmate cried in pain while a team of executioners stuck him with needles 18 times trying to connect an IV.
Since the deadly drugs never entered Broom’s system, state prosecutors argued double jeopardy does not apply. They also reasoned that the constitutionality of his death sentence does not change just because the previous execution attempt was unsuccessful.
Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger agreed with the state’s argument.
“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.”
To Broom and his attorneys, the court’s decision is disappointing. They are now looking for “additional legal remedies,” including a federal appeal of the ruling.
Anti-death penalty group Ohioans to Stop Executions petitioned Governor John Kasich to change Broom’s death sentence to life without parole. Kevin Werner, the executive director of the advocacy group, contends Broom’s execution started when the prisoner was stuck with the needles.
No one is quite clear on why the team could not get the IV properly inserted into Broom’s veins. Justice Judi French said that alone should be enough to reexamine the court’s reasons for rejecting the appeal.
“If the state cannot explain why the Broom execution went wrong, then the state cannot guarantee that the outcome will be different next time,” French wrote in a dissent.
After trying for over two hours to find a suitable vein, then-Governor Ted Strickland halted Broom’s 2009 execution. According to statements from the death row inmate, the medical team tried at least 18 times to insert a needle, each time causing severe pain.
The team included a phlebotomist as well as several nurses and technicians. After multiple failed attempts to find a vein, the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction enlisted the help of a part-time prison doctor with no experience or training with executions to try, but he was also unsuccessful.
According to court documents, the team tried several injection spots on Broom’s body after the usual ones were found unsuitable.
“For the first time, they also began examining areas around and above his elbow as well as his legs. They also reused previous insertion sites, and as they continued inserting catheter needles into already swollen and bruised sites, Broom covered his eyes and began to cry from the pain.”
Tim Young, the head of the Ohio Public Defender’s Office, thinks the state got their chance to execute Broom and shouldn’t be granted another.
“Whether you believe it’s the hand of God or just basic government failure, as happened in this case, they don’t get to do this again,” he said.
Broom’s defense attorneys, Timothy Sweeney and Adele Shank, tried to convince the court last year that another execution attempt would force the prisoner to relive the anguish he’s already been through.
Over the past few years, there have been several highly publicized botched executions. As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Oklahoma murderer Clayton Lockett was scheduled to die by lethal injection in April 2014. However, the drugs were administered incorrectly and the inmate died a slow, painful death that took over 43 minutes.
As reported by the Washington Post, Broom was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1984 kidnapping, rape, and murder of 14-year-old Tryna Middleton. The teen was abducted in Cleveland while walking home with two friends from a football game. The convicted killer stabbed the young girl seven times in the chest.
Romell Broom, now 59, has been waiting on death row ever since the botched execution, and no new date has been set. Currently, there are more than 20 death row inmates with scheduled death dates, but they may be delayed as Ohio’s supply of the lethal drug needed to conduct the executions has run out.
[Photo by Mike Simons/Getty Images]