Ohio Governor Mike DeWine speaks during the Ohio State of the State address at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus.
Photo: Paul Vernon (AP)

The state of Ohio has been unable to obtain drugs to murder a death row prisoner who maintains his innocence.

Republican Gov. Mike DeWine delayed the execution date of death row prisoner Warren Keith Henness, 55, who was convicted for the 1992 murder of Richard Meyers. The execution date was pushed from Sept. 12 to May 14, 2020.

In January, federal magistrate Judge Michael Merz called the three-drug cocktail Ohio has used in executions “cruel and unusual punishment.” Midazolam, a sedative, can make it difficult to breathe. One doctor said the feeling was similar to waterboarding, the CIA torture method.

DeWine asked lawmakers to consider changing the law making lethal injection the state’s only method of execution, said gubernatorial spokesman Dan Tierney. The European Union banned the export of lethal injection drugs in 2011.

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“I’m not going to stand up here and talk about what forms of execution we are going to use in the state off Ohio,” DeWine said.

According to the group Ohioans to Stop Executions, massive doubts remain about the circumstances of the murder of Richard Meyers partly because of the failures of his trial attorneys. Henness’ fingerprints and blood samples did not match those from the crime scene. The group also said that the state destroyed forensic evidence from the crime after the trial. The only evidence that was used in the conviction came from the other two co-defendants.

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Ohioans to Stop Executions wrote that Henness’ case is much too tenuous to warrant a death sentence: “When there is any doubt or an incomplete fact pattern, commutation is warranted. Death cases require absolute certainty and in this case there is anything but certainly. Keith Henness is uniquely deserving of clemency.”

There are 143 people currently on Ohio death row, according to the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

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Henness has been on death row for 25 years. I legitimately get a stomach ache thinking about lawmakers spending time talking about all the most logistically convenient way to kill someone who maybe did or maybe did not kill someone decades ago. Having to spend huge amounts of time thinking about when and how you to be murdered by the state certainly seems like it would qualify as torture to me.