Death row inmate cites health-related risk factors

Ohio lethal injection

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – A condemned Ohio killer scheduled to die next month has multiple health problems that put him at risk of suffering during lethal injection, attorneys argued in a lawsuit Monday.

Arthur Tyler has a history of heart problems and diabetes and risk factors including high blood pressure, breathing difficulties and being overweight, according to the complaint in federal court in Columbus.

Tyler could also suffer adverse reactions from medication he has taken, including blood pressure drugs, the complaint said.

Tyler’s problems increase “the substantial risk of serious harm to which he will be subjected during any attempt by Defendants to execute him using their lethal-injection protocol,” the filing said.

The complaint argues that lethal injection drugs would amount to cruel and unusual punishment. The drugs are the only execution method under Ohio law.

Tyler would suffer whether the drugs were injected into his veins or his muscles, as the state’s backup method allows, the filing said.

Nevertheless, Tyler said his constitutional argument is based on the current method. Tyler “is not alleging that Defendants can never execute him by any method,” the filing said.

Tyler, 64, was sentenced to die for killing Cleveland produce vendor Sander Leach during a 1983 robbery.

Ohio made lethal injection the sole execution method in 2001, eliminating the electric chair – last used in the state in 1963 – as an option.

A message was left with the state Attorney General’s office, which was expected to oppose Tyler’s arguments.

Other Ohio inmates have unsuccessfully argued that physical problems – such as obesity and drug allergies – could lead to painful executions.

Tyler alleged two risk factors – breathing difficulties and “airway obstruction” – that call to mind Ohio’s most recent execution.

Dennis McGuire took 26 minutes to die in January, the longest execution in modern Ohio history, when the state used a never-tried two-drug combo of a sedative and painkiller. McGuire made repeated snorting-like gasps over several minutes, raising allegations he suffered during the procedure.

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