Inmate overdose delays his execution

Associated Press / March 9, 2010

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COLUMBUS, Ohio - Governor Ted Strickland yesterday postponed the execution of a convicted killer who managed to take an overdose of pills in his death row cell and was found unconscious just hours before he was to be driven to his execution.

Lawrence Reynolds Jr., 43, who was sentenced to die for killing his neighbor in 1994, was found unconscious around 11:30 p.m. Sunday at the Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown, prisons spokeswoman Julie Walburn said. He was alone in his cell on death row, she said.

Reynolds, who was scheduled to die by lethal injection today, was showing signs of consciousness yesterday at a Youngstown hospital, but medical staff weren’t prepared to release him, Walburn said.

He was upgraded from serious to stable condition.

The inmate managed to take the pills despite being under a death watch - routine for inmates 72 hours away from being executed - and frequent monitoring by prison guards, Walburn said.

Strickland issued a seven-day reprieve and rescheduled the execution for March 16.

Reynolds has been challenging Ohio’s new lethal injection procedure, which uses a one-drug system instead of three drugs.

As expected, his attorneys filed an appeal yesterday with the US Supreme Court seeking to postpone the execution.

Reynolds was sentenced to die for strangling his 67-year-old neighbor in her Cuyahoga Falls home to get money for alcohol.