Lawyers for McGuire contend that he will suffocate to death in agony and terror. The state disagrees. But the truth is that no one knows exactly how McGuire will die, how long it will take or what he will experience in the process.
At a hearing on January 12 about the new execution procedure, the state's expert, Dr. Mark Dershwitz, said, "I truly don't know how many minutes it will take the inmate to stop breathing," and later, "There is no science to guide me on exactly how long this is going to take."
This type of uncertainty is commonplace in executions today, as departments of correction scramble to find new drugs and new procedures to carry out executions in response to pharmaceutical companies taking steps to prevent the use of their products in executions.
Legal expert Deborah Denno compared the states' process of selecting an execution method to trying to figure out what to make for dinner.