COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Trying again to execute the country’s only survivor of a botched lethal injection amounts to cruel and unusual punishment and double jeopardy, according to lawyers fighting a second execution try.
Romell Broom, 59, was sentenced to die for the 1984 rape and slaying of 14-year-old Tryna Middleton after abducting her in Cleveland as she walked home from a Friday night football game with two friends. The Ohio Supreme Court planned to hear arguments from Broom’s attorneys on Tuesday.
His 2009 execution was stopped by then-Gov. Ted Strickland after an execution team tried for two hours to find a suitable vein. Broom has said he was stuck with needles at least 18 times, with pain so intense that he cried and screamed.
An hour into the execution, the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction recruited a part-time prison doctor with no experience or training with executions to try — again, unsuccessfully — to find a vein.
Broom’s appeals in federal court are on hold while the state court hears the constitutional arguments.
Broom has been back on death row since. No new execution date has been set.
Requiring Broom to endure another execution attempt would double up his punishment by forcing him to relieve the pain he’s already been through, his attorneys, Adele Shank and Timothy Sweeney, argued in a court filing last year.
Broom “faces a unique and uncalled for psychological terror by being put through the execution process another time,” they said.
In 1947, Louisiana electrocuted 18-year-old Willie Francis by electric chair a year after an improperly prepared electric chair failed to work. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to allow the second execution to proceed, rejecting double jeopardy arguments. A state’s administration of its criminal law isn’t affected by due process rights, when “an accident, with no suggestion of malevolence, prevents the consummation of a sentence,” the court ruled at the time.
The state says lower courts properly determined that any mistakes happened during Broom’s execution preparations, not the actual procedure, and that no lethal chemicals ever began to flow through his veins.
“Where a lawfully adjudged sentence is not carried out, it cannot be said that a second successful attempt will result in multiple punishments for the same offense,” Katherine Mullin and Allan Regas, assistant Cuyahoga County prosecutors, said in a September court filing.
Broom’s attorneys argue the execution process was underway as soon as attempts were made to insert IVs that would carry the chemicals.
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