Trying in vain for a vein to take a life

At one point, Romell Broom, who was convicted of rape and murder of a teenage girl 25 years ago, tried to help prison officers find a suitable vein by moving around and flexing his muscles. The prison governor later thanked him for his cooperation.

What critics of the death penalty are describing as the “virtually unprecedented” failure of the attempt to execute Broom, 53, has again raised questions over its continued use in the US. Concerns have also been raised over a case in Texas in which a man is facing execution despite an admission by the judge and prosecutor in his trial that they were lovers. Prison officers described how, after about an hour of hunting for a suitable vein, Broom helped them by turning on to his side, by moving rubber tubing along his arm and by flexing his hand and muscles. At one point, technicians found what appeared to be a suitable vein but it collapsed as they inserted a needle, apparently because of past drug use.

Broom, who was convicted of kidnapping, raping and killing 14-year-old Tryna Middleton, became so distressed that he lay on his back and covered his face with both hands. One of the execution team handed him a toilet roll to wipe away tears. Prison director Terry Collins contacted Ohio’s governor Ted Strickland to tell him of the difficulties. The governor issued a temporary reprieve. Collins later thanked the condemned man for what he said was the respect he showed toward the execution team and for the way he endured the ordeal. One of Broom’s lawyers, Adele Shank, who witnessed the failed execution, said her client was clearly in pain.

“It was obviously a flawed process,” she said. “He survived this execution attempt, and they really can’t do it again. It was cruel and unusual punishment.”

Broom’s legal team has now asked Ohio’s supreme court to cancel the execution but state officials on Friday said they would attempt it again next week.

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