LUCASVILLE, Ohio - Dennis McGuire was pronounced dead at 10:53 a.m., Thursday, at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, after he was given the newest form of lethal injection.
There was an IV inserted in each arm. As the new two-drug concoction was entering his body, he attempted to sit up, and yelled “I love you” to his family, according to a media witness. He appeared to attempt to wave to them from the gurney to which he was strapped.
Sheila Grey, a television news anchor from Channel 22 in Dayton, served as a media witness to the execution, and gave her account. She said McGuire gave his final statement at 10:26 a.m., speaking to both his witnesses as well as Joy Stewart’s family.
The process between the injection and the pronounced time of death took approximately 10 minutes, a long time for a lethal injection, according to witnesses. Alan Johnson, from the Columbus Dispatch, has seen 19 executions by lethal injection. He said he had never seen one like this before.
McGuire was reported to have gasped for air, making a rattling sound in his chest, and showing visible chest movements. Grey said she personally believes that when he closed his eyes between the times of 10:26 and 10:32 a.m., he was unconscious.
Both Grey and Johnson expressed the execution was “difficult to watch.”
An initial briefing held for media present at the facility in Lucasville was conducted by JoEllen Smith, from the Office of Communications at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility.
She discussed a timeline of McGuire’s last 24 hours with media representatives in the room.
McGuire remained cooperative and calm after his arrival at the facility on Wednesday, Jan. 15, Smith said. He made phone calls to family members, and did not sleep. At approximately 1 a.m., Thursday, McGuire began writing letters. Smith said it was unclear who the letters were for.
For lunch on Wednesday, McGuire ate two hot dogs, the standard meal served to the common prison population that day. For dinner on Wednesday, he was served his “special” meal, which consisted of roast beef, extra-crispy fried chicken, fried potatoes with onions, potato salad, a toasted onion bagel with cream cheese, butter pecan ice cream, and a soda.
McGuire was offered a “special” breakfast at 5:30 the morning of the execution, but refused this meal.
McGuire visited with family and friends Thursday morning, beginning at around 5:47 a.m., and all visits were reported to have been extremely emotional. McGuire was offered a shower at approximately 5:57 a.m., but he declined the offer.
McGuire was convicted of the 1989 kidnapping, rape and murder of Joy Stewart. The body of Stewart, who was eight months pregnant at the time of her death, was found near a bridge on Bantas Creek Road.
A Preble County jury recommended McGuire be sentenced to death, a recommendation followed by the trial court judge. The same year, the 12th District Court of Appeals affirmed both the conviction and the sentence. His execution was originally scheduled for April 8, 1999.