News & Politics

Ohio Prison Officials Halt Execution Midway, Unable to Find a Vein

An Ohio inmate who was scheduled for execution on Wednesday received a reprieve of sorts when his executioners were unable to find a vein to administer the drugs that would end his life.

Alva Campbell, 69, was sentenced to death for killing 18-year-old Charles Dials during a carjacking in Columbus, Ohio, in 1997.

Governor Kasich denied his request for clemency last week, and on Tuesday, the Supreme Court refused to intervene to halt his execution.

Cambell’s attorneys had asked to have the execution canceled, citing the inmate’s many health problems. They argued that he’s too ill for a lethal injection, explaining that he uses a walker, suffers from chronic pulmonary obstructive disorder and may have cancer, possibly related two his two decades long, two-pack-a-day cigarette habit. He also uses a colostomy bag. The warned that the execution could become a spectacle.

Ohio prisons spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said that two checks of Campbell on Tuesday found the veins “palpable and accessible.” Prison director Gary Mohr said the condition of the inmate’s veins had changed since Tuesday

Because of his breathing problems, the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction said he could use a wedge-shaped pillow during the planned execution because of potential breathing problems that could result from him lying flat.

Early Wednesday afternoon Mohr announced that the execution had been called off after the execution team was unable to find a vein to insert an IV to administer the lethal drugs.

According to Mohr, the team made several attempts to find a suitable vein but were unsuccessful. They reportedly tried the right arm twice, the left arm once, and then the right shin, but were unable to insert the IV needle after trying for 30 minutes.

This is only the third time in U.S. history that an execution has been called off after the procedure had begun.

Attorney David Stebbins, who represents Campbell, said that his client shook hands with the execution team and wiped away tears after learning that the execution had been canceled.

Mohr told reporters that Campbell will be sent back to death for now and authorities will consider a future execution date.