Ohio can retry execution of man who survived lethal injection attempt – state Supreme Court

Death row inmate Romell Broom is seen in an undated picture from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. © Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction
The state of Ohio is allowed to again try to execute a death row inmate after the first attempt to kill him failed, the state Supreme Court ruled.

In a 4-3 vote, the court ruled that inmate Romell Broom, 59, could be subjected to a second execution attempt by way of lethal injection because the first one technically never began, CBS News reported. In 2009, state authorities failed to execute Broom because they could not properly administer the drugs to his veins.

In its Wednesday ruling, the court also rejected Broom’s claim that a second attempt would violate his constitutional rights. Broom’s attorneys argued that a second chance was the equivalent of double jeopardy – being tried for the same crime twice – and would also amount to cruel and unusual punishment, which is barred under the Eighth Amendment.

Prosecutors objected to this line of thought, saying the lethal injection drugs never entered Broom’s body, and that a failed attempt doesn’t invalidate the original death sentence. The state’s high court agreed.

"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," Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger wrote in the majority opinion.

Writing for the dissent, Justice Judi French singled out the fact that state officials could not say why the execution didn’t work. Over the course of two hours, executioners tried to inject lethal drugs into Broom 18 times but could not find a suitable vein. During this time, Broom reportedly cried and screamed in pain.

"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 2010, Broom’s legal team argued that the inmate needed to be taken off death row.

"His death sentence may no longer be carried out by any means or methods without violating the constitutional rights identified...he must be removed from death row and placed in the Ohio prison system's general population,” the attorneys said in a court filing.

Broom was originally sentenced to death after being convicted of raping and killing 14-year-old Tryna Middleton in 1984. There has been no new execution date scheduled.

While the Ohio Supreme Court ruled in favor of a second attempt, Broom still has an appeal on hold at the federal level.

Broom is only the second person in US history to survive an execution attempt, according to AP. The first occurred in 1947, when 18-year-old Willie Francis was set to be killed via electric chair. The chair didn’t work, but the US Supreme Court eventually ruled to permit a second attempt.