Inmate will get pillow to help him breathe during execution
Death row prisoner Alva Campbell has said he is too ill for lethal injection
By Andrew Welsh-Huggins
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio will provide a wedge-shaped pillow to help a condemned inmate breathe as he's being executed this week, among other accommodations the state is considering.
Death row prisoner Alva Campbell, who has said he is too ill for lethal injection, became mildly agitated when officials tried lowering him to a normal execution position, according to a medical review by a physician contractor for the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.
Dr. James McWeeney noted there were no objective findings such as increased pulse rate or breathing to corroborate Campbell's anxiety. Nevertheless, he recommended allowing Campbell to lie "in a semi-recumbent position" during the execution.
The same exam failed to find veins suitable for inserting an IV on either of Campbell's arms.
Campbell, 69, has severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder as the result of a decades-long two-pack-a-day smoking habit, the doctor said.
The prisoner's attorneys say he uses a walker, relies on a colostomy bag, requires four breathing treatments a day and may have lung cancer. They have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stop Wednesday's execution, because of his poor health, a motion opposed by the state.
The attorneys have warned that Campbell's death could become a "spectacle" if guards are unable to find suitable veins in the sick inmate's arms.
Earlier this month Campbell lost a bid to be executed by firing squad after a federal judge questioned whether lawmakers would enact the bill needed to allow the method.
Prisons department spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said Monday that Campbell's "medical condition and history are being assessed and considered in order to identify any necessary accommodations or contingencies for his execution."
Franklin County prosecutor Ron O'Brien calls Campbell "the poster child for the death penalty."
Prosecutors say his health claims are ironic given he faked paralysis to escape court custody the day he killed a teenager during a carjacking.
Campbell was paroled in 1992 after serving 20 years for killing a man in a Cleveland bar. On April 2, 1997, Campbell was in a wheelchair when he overpowered a Franklin County sheriff's deputy on the way to a court hearing on several armed robbery charges, records show.
Campbell took the deputy's gun, carjacked 18-year-old Charles Dials and drove around with him for several hours before shooting him twice in the head as Dials crouched in the footwell of his own truck, according to court records.
Campbell was regularly beaten, sexually abused and tortured as a child, his attorneys have argued in court filings and before the Ohio Parole Board.
Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich rejected mercy for Campbell last week.