- Associated Press - Friday, September 5, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Eleven condemned killers have received new execution dates beginning early next year, the state prisons agency announced Friday following a federal judge’s order that put capital punishment on hold in the state through mid-January out of concern over the two-drug combination used to put prisoners to death.

The new dates call for six executions next year beginning in February and five in 2016. They came in the form of reprieves handed down by Republican Gov. John Kasich, moving inmates’ former execution dates back by several weeks.

The first new execution date, Feb. 11, was set for Ronald Phillips, sentenced to die for the rape and killing of his girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter in 1993. His execution was previously postponed while he made an unsuccessful attempt to donate organs to family members.

The lead defense attorney challenging Ohio’s lethal-injection policy, Allen Bohnert, declined to comment.

Judge Gregory Frost’s ruling last month delayed executions scheduled for September, October, November and January and highlighted the ongoing problem faced by states in obtaining drugs to put inmates to death. The order also was seen as a way to give Ohio more time to find sources for its preferred method, a dose of compounded pentobarbital, a powerful sedative, which has been used without incident several times in Missouri and Texas.

At issue is the state’s latest death penalty policy change, which was announced in late April and increases the amount of the sedative and painkiller it uses.

Last January, unable to obtain supplies of compounded pentobarbital, Ohio switched to its backup method of the sedative midazolam and the painkiller hydromorphone. Condemned killer Dennis McGuire repeatedly gasped during the 26 minutes it took him to die on Jan. 16, an outcome partly predicted by defense attorneys.

On April 29 in Oklahoma, an inmate died of an apparent heart attack 43 minutes after his execution began with a three-drug method that starts with midazolam. Investigators have blamed poor placement of intravenous needles, not problems with the drugs.

On July 23, an inmate took nearly two hours to die in Arizona, which also uses midazolam and hydromorphone.

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