COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal by a condemned killer whose 2009 execution was called off after two hours during which he cried in pain while receiving 18 needle sticks.
The court’s 6-2 ruling denies Romell Broom the opportunity to argue that giving the state prisons agency a second chance to execute him would amount to cruel and unusual punishment and double jeopardy.
Broom, 60, is only the second inmate to survive an execution in U.S. history and the only via lethal injection. In 1947, Louisiana electrocuted 18-year-old Willie Francis by electric chair a year after an improperly prepared electric chair failed to work. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to allow the second execution to proceed, rejecting double jeopardy arguments.
Broom was sentenced to die for raping and killing 14-year-old Tryna Middleton after abducting her in Cleveland in 1984 as she walked home from a football game with two friends.
Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan said they would have granted Broom’s appeal, with Breyer saying the execution attempt took place under “especially cruel and unusual circumstances.”
Despite the ruling, a second execution is years away because of other scheduled executions and uncertainty over the state’s supply of lethal injection drugs.
Broom’s lawyer called the court’s decision a missed opportunity. Previous lawsuits alleging that a botched execution violated an inmate’s rights involved prisoners who ultimately died, said attorney Adele Shank.
“Here the court had the opportunity to address a case where there was a living person there to vindicate their constitutional rights,” Shank said. “So it’s very disappointing that this unique opportunity was not accepted for review by the court.”
Ohioans to Stop Executions, the state’s largest anti-death penalty organization, renewed its call for Republican Gov. John Kasich to grant Broom clemency.
The only cruel and unusual punishment in Broom’s case is what he inflicted on his victim’s family through the loss of their daughter and decades of “frivolous appeals,” said Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty.
“The fact that this remorseless, cold-blooded killer is still alive and appealing more than 30 years after his sentence to death demonstrates just how dysfunctional the criminal justice system has become in capital cases,” McGinty said.
The Ohio Supreme Court earlier this year rejected Broom’s state appeal. The court sided with prosecutors who say double jeopardy doesn’t apply to Broom because lethal drugs never entered Broom’s veins while executioners unsuccessfully tried to hook up an IV.
Prosecutors also argue that a previously unsuccessful execution attempt doesn’t affect the constitutionality of Broom’s death sentence.
Broom’s 2009 execution was stopped by then-Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat, after an execution team tried for two hours to find a suitable vein. Broom has said he was stuck with needles at least 18 times, with pain so intense he cried and screamed.
An hour into the execution, the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction recruited a part-time prison doctor with no experience or training with executions to try — again, unsuccessfully — to find a vein.
Broom has been back on death row since. No new execution date has been set.
Associated Press writer Mark Sherman in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.
Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/awhcolumbus. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/andrew-welsh-huggins