Attorney says executed killer may have suffered during lethal injection

Gary Otte (Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections)

COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Condemned killer Gary Otte was put to death Wednesday in Lucasville, Ohio. He was convicted of killing two people in back-to-back robberies near Cleveland in 1992.

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction said the execution was performed without complication but Otte’s attorney said something disturbing happened to her client after the first drug was administered.

“It was very disturbing to me. What I saw is not anything I’ve seen in the past,” said federal public defender Carol Wright.

She said she believes her client suffered from air hunger.

“I noticed that his stomach was moving very — not violently, but certainly unnaturally — up and down,” Wright said. “I also noticed tears streaming down his face. I’ve witnessed, this would be my fourth execution, I’ve never seen tears after the drugs had begun.”

Wright said she thought Otte was possibly feeling sensation or pain. She said she tried to leave the witness room to alert a federal judge but was blocked for at least a minute, and then it was too late.

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“I believe the paralytic had been put on board,” Wright said. “And so it looks as if someone is dead but they may well still be suffering.”

She said she witnessed condemned child killer Ronald Phillips’ execution in July and didn’t notice anything wrong.

Moving forward, she has concerns that midazolam does not eliminate severe pain and suffering.

“It’s constitutionally required, first of all, and if we’re going to be in this business, we want to do it in a humane manner,” Wright said.

She said there’s a pending motion for a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order for the next inmate in line to be executed later this fall, Alva Campbell.

“We hope to present evidence about what occurred in Mr. Otte’s execution to support our claims,” she said.

ODRC spokesperson, JoEllen Smith, sent NBC4 News in Columbus this statement:

We followed proper security protocol and once her identity and intention was verified, she was given permission to exit the room. The execution was carried out in compliance with the execution policy and without complication.

Otte was the second inmate to be executed in Ohio this year after a three-year break from capital punishment.

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