Something went terribly wrong Thursday when Ohio prison officials tried a new mixture of chemicals to execute a convicted murderer. It took 26 minutes to kill Dennis McGuire, who raped and murdered a pregnant woman in 1989.
During the process, McGuire made sounds and movements that may have indicated he was in agony.
A combination of lethal drugs never used before was prepared for McGuire's execution. That was necessary because the drugs used previously are no longer available.
Clearly, the new chemical mixture did not work as speedily and effectively as state officials had hoped. The duration and manner of McGuire's death throes already have caused some, including his adult children, to term what happened "cruel and unusual punishment."
That is prohibited by the U.S. Constitution, federal courts have held.
Obviously, the same chemicals cannot be used in another execution.
Officials need to find out what went wrong, then do their best - under the obvious constraints of the situation - to ensure it does not happen again.