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Botched Execution Should “Provoke Constitutional Challenges” to the Death Penalty

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According to Attorney Nicole Chiravollatti, a St. Louis criminal defense lawyer, Ohio's “botched” execution could be the catalyst needed to reconsider the death penalty.

A convicted serial killer may have suffered cruel and unusual punishment during his execution, news sources speculate. According to witnesses, the man exhibited signs of pain, such as clenching his teeth and straining to raise his head, even though he was supposed to be unconscious.

Officials halted the execution and the man died several minutes later of a heart attack.

Officials blame the incident on a collapsed vein, but the case has already raised questions regarding Ohio's ability to administer the injection humanely. Opponents of the death penalty hope that the case will lead to a reconsideration of the punishment, and the White House stated that the recent incident was not humane.

Supporters of the penalty argue that the Constitution does not guarantee the right to a painless execution. According to Chief Justice John Roberts, “The Constitution does not demand the avoidance of all risk of pain in carrying out executions.”

Others remain concerned that the three-drug lethal injection fails to meet the Eighth Amendment requirement for ethical punishment.

According to Jen Moreno, staff attorney at the Berkeley School of Law Death Penalty Clinic, risks associated with the lethal injection method are obvious. She also indicated that the fumbled execution isn't the first of its kind – there have been other instances of potentially cruel and unusual capital punishment.

Attorney Chiravollatti and others like her hope that the story will raise awareness of inhuman execution methods.

She said, “This latest 'botched' execution should and will provoke constitutional challenges to the death penalty based on the 'cruel and unusual' phrase in the United States Constitution. It is unlikely that the pace of executions in Missouri will slow down, but perhaps this latest incident will get Missourians talking about this very important issue in a more thoughtful and meaningful way.”

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