COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has stayed the executions of three death row inmates, a move that has become somewhat common in the last handful of years as pharmaceutical issues combine with a shift in feelings about the death penalty.
DeWine announced the stays Friday, saying the moves are due to “ongoing problems involving the willingness of pharmaceutical suppliers to provide drugs to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.”
Those inmates who have had their executions rescheduled are:
- James O’Neal, who was scheduled to be executed on Aug. 16, 2023. His new execution date is Aug. 19, 2026. O’Neal was sentenced to die in 1995 for killing his wife, Carol.
- Jerome Henderson, who was scheduled to be executed on Sept. 14, 2023. His new date is Oct. 21, 2026. Henderson was convicted in 1985 of aggravated murder, burglary and attempted rape of Mary Acoff in Cincinnati.
- Melvin Bonnell, who was scheduled to be executed on Oct. 18, 2023. His new date is Nov. 18, 2026. Bonnell was sentenced to die for killing Robert Bunner in Bunner’s Cleveland apartment in 1987.
The delay comes amid more bipartisan calls at the Ohio Statehouse to abolish the death penalty in the state. Four state senators — two from each party — announced in March their intent to introduce legislation to that end.
In 2021, Ohio ranked sixth for the largest death row population in the U.S., according to the Death Penalty Information Center, with 138 active death sentences that year.
This is the second time O’Neal and Bonnell have had their executions changed. Both were originally scheduled to be executed in early 2021.
Two men remain scheduled for executions this year, the next being Keith Lamar on Nov. 16. Lamar was condemned in the slayings of fellow inmates during a 1993 Lucasville prison riot.
The state’s last execution was July 18, 2018, when Robert Van Hook was put to death for killing a man he met in a Cincinnati bar in 1985.