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Ohio Executes Gary Otte Using Three-Drug Mixture, But Attorney Claims Problems

Execution chamber in Florida
Doug Smith
Florida Department of Corrections

Ohio has executed a second convicted killer with a three-drug mixture that was first tried in July. But the condemned inmate’s lawyer says there may have been a problem this time. 

Gary Otte, 45, of Indiana died at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville about 31 minutes after his execution began.

Jim Province of the Toledo Blade has witnessed executions before, including a problematic one in 2006. Province said Otte apologized for his crimes, sang the hymn "The Greatest Thing," and then didn’t move after the drugs took effect.

“But one of his attorneys had the opinion that he was not sufficiently under enough not to experience pain from the second two drugs,” Province says. “So she tried to get a hold of a judge after the process had started, without success.”

Otte’s attorney Carol Wright says she believes Otte was suffering from "air hunger," a form of respiratory distress. She eventually reached the federal judge overseeing Otte's case, but it was too late. Otte's time of death was 10:54 a.m.

Otte had unsuccessfully argued to courts that Ohio's lethal injection method put him at risk of suffering serious pain.

Otte’s family and relatives of his two 1992 victims - Robert Wasikowski and Sharon Kostura - were among the witnesses but did not speak.