Blackman on Death row survived 18 execution attempts only to die of COVID-19

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Romell Broom was on death row for 24 years and was due to be executed in 2009 but officials were unable to find a vein that would take the lethal injection; Courtesy Photo

A death row convict who survived eighteen (18) attempts to execute him through lethal injection died of suspected COVID-19, media reported on Friday.

Romell Broom (64) had spent 24 years on death row in the midwestern Ohio region of the United State after being convicted of kidnapping, raping and murdering 14-year-old Tryna Middleton in 1984.

Broom’s body was left riddled with cuts from the attempted injections as officials couldn’t find a vein that would take the fatal dose, reports the Daily Star.

Following the botched first execution attempt, the Governor of Ohio initially gave Broom a one-week reprieve after his lawyers argued the first attempt to execute him constituted cruel and unusual punishment.

The prisoner had always pleaded innocence. A DNA test in 2003 also failed to clear his name and his date of execution via lethal injection was finally scheduled for September 15, 2009.

He was strapped to a table and attempts were made to find a suitable vein into which they could inject the deadly mix of pancuronium bromide, potassium chloride and midazolam.

Try as they did, the executioners could not find a suitable vein and Broom even tried to help them by moving his arm up and down and flexing his fingers. But whenever they tried to access a vein, it collapsed.

Then they tried a different strategy of having Broom sit upright on the table while the execution team tried to insert shunts into his legs, causing him even more pain. But again with no success, the officials gave up after two hours.

The next execution date was put off until September 22 but unable to find a way to kill him that wouldn’t amount to torture in violation of the US Constitution, it was then postponed indefinitely.

Amnesty International campaigned to spare Broom’s life, a documentary made about the botched execution and the killer even wrote a book entitled ‘Survivor on Death Row.’

Broom went on to challenge the state’s authority to attempt to execute him a second time, arguing it would violate the constitutional prohibition against twice placing a person in jeopardy of life.

But on March 16 2016, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled against him with Justice Judith Lanzinger saying the botched attempt did not constitute a failed execution.

She argued that setting the IV line was only a “preliminary step” to an execution, and the execution itself “commences when the lethal drug enters the IV line.”

Broom’s second execution was initially scheduled for June 17, 2020, but Governor Mike DeWine issued a reprieve last April saying the necessary drug was unavailable and it was rescheduled for March 16, 2022.

Then with the world in grip of Covid, Broom died on December 28, 2020. He was 64.

Corrections authorities placed him on their “COVID probable list” of prisoners suspected to have died of the disease.

At least 17 death row prisoners in four states have died of COVID-19, including Ohio’s oldest condemned prisoner James Frazier who died in November at the age of 79.

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