The death penalty which is only a punishment for the most unspeakable crimes remains controversial.
Some people believe it bring families closure and is the ultimate justice for murder victims. Others say executions are cruel and unusual punishment, and others, including many Catholics, oppose it on the basis that it is not a pro-life position. Organizations like The Innocence Project maintain that wrongful convictions can lead to wrongful executions.
Here are 10 death penalty cases that have sparked outrage over the years.
1. Dennis McGuire, executed January 16, 2014 in Ohio.
Dennis McGuire was convicted of rape and murder. He was the first death row inmate to be given the combination of midazolam and hydromorphone, which have now become associated with botched executions. It took McGuire 24 minutes to die as he struggled for air for 10 to 13 of those minutes.
2. Joseph R. Wood, executed July 23, 2014 in Arizona.
Wood who was convicted of the murder of his former girlfriend and her father was also executed using midazolam and hydromorphone, which had only ever been used in Dennis McGuire’s lethal injection. It took Wood more than two hours to die, which later initiated reviews of the process.
3. Clayton Lockett, executed April 29, 2014 in Oklahoma.
Lockett was a kidnap, rape, and murder convict. He was injected with midazolam as well, but he moved, convulsed, and even spoke. An IV which was incorrectly inserted in his leg caused these symptoms. But he died after 43 minutes after the execution was stopped.
4. Romell Broom, survived execution September 15, 2009 in Ohio.
Broom was sentenced to lethal injection for kidnapping, rape, and murder. His execution was halted after medical professionals tried for hours to find a vein to inject the drugs necessary to perform the punishment. He remains on death row and is currently appealing a decision that granted the state a second attempt at execution.
5. Ángel Nieves Díaz, executed December 12, 2006 in Florida.
Díaz who was convicted in the fatal shooting of a nightclub owner maintained his innocence. The needles used to inject the lethal drugs went through his veins and into surrounding tissue. He was in pain and trying to communicate. It took Diaz 34 minutes to die. This incident caused Florida to reexamine its execution practices.
6. John Wayne Gacy, executed May 10, 1994 in Illinois.
Gacy killed and raped at least 33 teenage boys and young men. The lethal injection drugs clogged up in the IV tube connected to his arm while being executed. It was replaced with a new tube and the execution proceeded.
7. Napoleon Beazley, executed May 28, 2002 in Texas.
Beazley murdered a business man at the tender age of 17, a little over three months before his eighteenth birthday. He was still a minor when he commited the crime making his execution controversial. Two years after his death in 2004, executing people who were under 18 when their crimes occurred became illegal.
8. Cameron Todd Willingham, February 17, 2004 in Texas.
Cameron Todd Willingham was convicted of murdering his three daughters in a house fire. Many believed evidence did not point toward arson, and after his death it was concluded that the evidence presented during trial was based only in opinion, not fact.
9. Teresa Lewis, executed September 23, 2010 in Virginia.
Lewis who was convicted of murder was the only woman to be on death row in Virginia. Her IQ was just two points above the threshold for intellectual disability and this made her execution controversial.
10. Troy Davis, executed September 21, 2011 in Georgia.
Troy Davis was convicted of the murder of an off-duty police officer. There were claims there was a lack of evidence in the case, including no murder weapon. There was also another viable suspect that was not looked into enough.