LUCASVILLE, Ohio — Ohio put to death a Toledo store owner’s killer yesterday with the country’s first use of the surgical sedative pentobarbital as a stand-alone execution drug.
Johnnie Baston was pronounced dead at 10:30 a.m., about 13 minutes after the drug began flowing into his arms. About a minute after being injected, Baston appeared to gasp, then grimace and wince, but then was quickly still.
In a five-minute final statement, Baston said the governor should have respected the opposition of his victim’s family to the death penalty and commuted his sentence to life without parole. Baston also said he made a bad decision and said he hoped both his family and that of his victim could move on. He asked his brothers, both of whom were witnesses, to watch out for his teenage children as they grow up.
Ohio switched to pentobarbital as its execution drug after the company that made the drug it previously used, sodium thiopental, announced production was being discontinued. Oklahoma also uses pentobarbital, a barbiturate, but in combination with other drugs that paralyze inmates and stop their hearts.
States around the country have dwindling supplies of sodium thiopental, and several have looked for supplies overseas.