Ohio can try again to put to death a condemned killer whose 2009 botched execution was called off after two hours, the Ohio Supreme Court has ruled.
On Wednesday the court by a 4-3 vote rejected arguments by death row inmate Romell Broom, whose attorneys said giving the state prisons agency a second chance would amount to cruel and unusual punishment and double jeopardy.
Prosecutors had argued double jeopardy doesn't apply because lethal drugs never entered Broom's veins while executioners unsuccessfully tried to hook up an IV. They also said a previously unsuccessful execution attempt doesn't affect the constitutionality of his death sentence.
Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger sided with the state, saying the execution never began because the drugs were never administered.
The majority opinion said it was unclear why Broom's veins couldn't be accessed, a fact that brings the rejection of his appeal into question, Justice Judi French wrote in a dissent. "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.
No new execution date set
No new execution date has been set for Broom, 59.
Broom was sentenced to die for raping and killing 14-year-old Tryna Middleton after abducting her in Cleveland in 1984 as she walked home with friends.
His 2009 execution was stopped by then-governor 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 he cried and screamed.
Requiring Broom to endure another execution attempt would double up his punishment by forcing him to relive the pain he's already been through, his attorneys, Adele Shank and Timothy Sweeney, argued in a court filing last year.
Federal appeal likely
A message was left with Broom's attorneys seeking comment Wednesday.
Broom's appeals in federal court were on hold while the state court heard the constitutional arguments.
With a federal appeal of the ruling likely, a second execution is years away. In addition, Ohio already has more than two dozen death row inmates with firm execution dates but no lethal drugs to put them to death with.
In 1947, Louisiana electrocuted 18-year-old Willie Francis 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.