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Death row inmate gets reprieve after botched execution attempt


Latest update : 2009-09-22

Death row inmate Romell Broom (photo) had his execution rescheduled after executioners repeatedly failed to find a vein for the deadly injection. Broom's lawyers said the failed attempt violates constitutional protection against cruel punishments.

AFP - A death row inmate who was the first to have survived an attempted lethal injection in the United States was granted a reprieve Friday by a federal judge.

Romell Broom's lawyer hopes to make the temporary restraining order permanent by appealing on the grounds that a second attempt violates constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment.

Executioners struggled for two hours last week to find a vein in which to administer the deadly dose before giving up after the state's governor issued a week-long reprieve.

"They were poking 18, 19, 20 times, they went into the arm, the leg, all over the place," Bloom's lawyer Timothy Sweeney said.

"He was trying to help them but it was incredibly painful to the point where he broke down and cried and was totally beaten down," Sweeney told AFP.

"He's always been a strong, stoic guy. No emotion. But this totally and thoroughly beat him up and broke him down."

Ohio temporarily suspended the death penalty after two previous problems with finding suitable veins.

Both men were eventually executed but their obvious distress and the length of time it took forced the state to reevaluate its methods.

Ohio's statutes require that executions be "quick and painless."

"There is an argument in (Bloom's) case that he may not be executed by any means," Sweeney said.

"They tried and failed."

The only other person to have survived execution in the United States - a young black man named Willie Francis who survived a Louisiana electric chair - made the same argument to the Supreme Court in 1946 and lost 5-4.

Sweeney says he hopes that standards have evolved sufficiently since then to save Broom.

Broom, 53, was sentenced to die for the rape and murder of a teenage girl in 1984.

Date created : 2009-09-19