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Published On: Thu, Feb 6th, 2014

Suzanne Basso executed in another scandalous US execution

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On Wednesday, only weeks after a botched execution by lethal injection with untested drugs, with 26 minutes of gurgling and convulsion,  Suzanne Basso became the 14th woman to be executed in the United States.

Christof Lehmann (nsnbc) : On Wednesday, the 59-year-old Suzanne Basso was executed in the Texas State Penitentiary in Huntsville, near Houston. A last minute appeal to the Supreme Court was rejected. The former seamstress, who was sentenced to death after being convicted of murder in 1998 was the 14th woman to be executed in the Unites States since the country resumed executions in 1976.

basso_execution_usaBasso is the 510th person to be executed in the State of Texas, which is the US state that most actively pursues the implementation of the death penalty. Of those 510, Suzanne Basso was the fifth woman to be executed. The fourth woman to be executed was Kimberly McCarthy, who was put to death in June 2013. Three of the five women who have been executed in the USA since 2002 have been put to death in Texas.

Basso’s lawyer, Winston Cochran, said that the last minute appeal to the Supreme Court was asking the court to review the Texan criteria for assessing the mental health of a prisoner who has been sentenced to death. Previous appeals stressed that Basso was delusional and did not meet the standard of mental competency required for an execution to proceed. Basso was convicted of the 1998 murder of the mentally challenged, 59 year-old Louis “Buddy” Musso, ostensibly for insurance money.

Suzanne Basso was executed by lethal injection. Associated Press reports that Basso declined to make a final statement and that she was pronounced dead at 6.26 pm, local time. Her execution by lethal injection came only twenty days after a scandalously botched execution with experimental drugs in Ohio.

Off labelling. James Heilman

Off labelling. James Heilman

Untested Drugs, 26 Minutes of Gurgling and Convulsions – Official’s say “McGuire went very well”. 

On 16 January the State of Ohio executed Dennis McGuire by lethal injection with a cocktail of untested drugs. David Nicoll, a Consultant Neurologist and Honorary Senior Lecturer at University of Birmingham reported, that pressure by drug manufacturers and European export controls mean the supply of drugs  which have traditionally been tested, approved for and used in execution, including pentobarbital, a Barbituate used for severe forms of epilepsy, is now limited, leading to executing states using different concoctions and combinations.

Nicoll stressed that the State of Ohio opted to use a sedative called Midazolam and a painkiller, Hydromorphone, for the execution of McGuire, due to a shortage of pentobarbital. As the export ban on drugs continues and stockpiles of the approved drugs deplete, it is likely that a growing number of convicts will be executed with the untested drugs in what can only be described as experimental, improvised executions. The neurologist described McGuires execution as “lethal injection based on guesswork”, which raises serious human rights and ethical issues in medicine.

Dennis McGuire. Ohio Dept of Rehabilitation and Correction

Dennis McGuire. Ohio Dept of Rehabilitation and Correction

Several eyewitnesses to the execution of Dennis McGuire stressed that it lasted 26 minutes for McGuire to expire. An Associated Press reporter who witnessed the execution said that his stomach rose and fell several times as he repeatedly opened and shut his mouth.

A journalist from the Colombus Dispatch reported that McGuire gasped loudly for air for about 13 minutes prior to his death,” his chest heaving and his fist clenched. “Deep, rattling sounds emanated from his chest.”

The son of Dennis McGuire confirmed the grisly details, adding that it took a full 26 minutes from the onset of the lethal injection until Dennis McGuire was pronounced dead.

Meanwhile, a warden at the Texas State Penitentiary in Huntsville, near Houston, was quoted as saying that “McGuire went very well”. So far, nsnbc has not been able to acquire independent reports about “how well Suzanne Basso went”.

There are, currently, eight women on death row in Texas, including Linda Carty, a British citizen who was born on the Caribbean island of St. Kitts.

Ch/L – nsnbc 06.012.2014

Related article:

Ohio execution shows lethal injections are based on guesswork

About the Author

- Dr. Christof Lehmann is the founder and editor of nsnbc. He is a psychologist and former independent political consultant on conflict, conflict resolution and a wide range of other political issues. In March 2013 he established nsnbc as a daily, independent, international on-line newspaper. He can be contacted at nsnbc international at

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