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Ohio governor delays execution amid confusion

  • Story Highlights
  • Lawrence Reynolds Jr. was set to be executed Thursday for killing neighbor in 1994
  • Action comes hours after Ohio attorney general asked for execution to go through
  • Federal appeals court had blocked his execution, citing failed attempt last month
  • Strickland delayed Romell Broom's execution after technicians couldn't find vein
By Bill Mears
CNN Supreme Court Producer
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Ohio's governor granted temporary reprieves to two death row inmates just hours after a federal appeals court blocked the execution of one of them -- adding to the mounting confusion over the state's capital punishment system.

Lawrence Reynolds is on death row for killing his neighbor in  1994 during a robbery in suburban Cleveland.

Lawrence Reynolds is on death row for killing his neighbor in 1994 during a robbery in suburban Cleveland.

Earlier Monday, the state's attorney general's office asked the U.S. Supreme Court to allow Thursday's execution of Lawrence Reynolds Jr. to go forward as scheduled.

However, Gov. Ted Strickland announced he would delay Reynolds's execution until March, at the earliest. Another death row inmate, Darryl Durr, scheduled to be executed in coming weeks, also was granted a reprieve until at least April 2010.

The conflicting moves came after the botched execution attempt of Romell Broom last month, which raised serious questions about the state's lethal injection procedures.

"Additional time is needed to fully conduct a thorough and comprehensive review of an alternative or backup lethal injection protocol that is in accordance with Ohio law," Strickland said in his announcement.

No explanation was offered on why Ohio's executive branch switched its official position in such a short period of time. The state was expected to ask the Supreme Court for dismissal of the pending appeal.

Reynolds was sentenced to death for beating and strangling Loretta Mae Foster, his 67-year-old neighbor, during a home invasion in suburban Cleveland.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati had blocked Reynolds' execution Monday, citing problems accessing Broom's veins in a failed execution attempt last month.

Technicians tried for two hours on September 15 to find suitable veins to insert the chemicals. Strickland has delayed the execution indefinitely.

Broom will get a hearing before a federal judge next month. His lawyers argue allowing a second execution attempt would be unconstitutional.

Reynolds' lawyers have argued the state's lethal injection protocols violate the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Judges on the appeals court were at odds over the Reynolds appeal.

"Given the important constitutional and humanitarian issues at stake in all death penalty cases, these problems in the Ohio lethal injection protocol are certainly worthy of meaningful consideration," wrote Judge Boyce Martin.

Judge Jeffrey Sutton dissented.

"Why assume an execution protocol is unconstitutional when one of the humane features of the protocol -- that the state will not continue trying to access a usable vein beyond a sensible time limit -- is being followed?"

All About Capital PunishmentTed Strickland

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