Ohio man is first executed with lone dose of pentobarbital
Johnnie Baston was convicted of the murder of a Toledo store owner.
March 10th, 2011
12:50 PM ET

Ohio man is first executed with lone dose of pentobarbital

Johnnie Baston on Thursday became the first person in the United States executed with the single-dose drug pentobarbital.

Pentobarbital, a barbiturate that has been used in animal euthanasia and as a mild anesthetic in humans, was used in a U.S. execution for the first time in December, when it was administered as the first drug in a three-drug cocktail used in a lethal injection given to an Oklahoma inmate.

Sodium thiopental is the normal drug used in such lethal injections, but a nationwide shortage of the chemical has forced some states to scramble for possible substitutes.

In 2009, Ohio became the first state to perform an execution with a single drug, using a single dose of sodium thiopental.

Baston was pronounced dead at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at the Southern Ohio Correctional Institution in Lucasville, the state Department of Corrections said.

He received the death sentenced for the 1994 murder of Toledo store owner Chong Hoon Mah, a South Korean immigrant who was shot in the head at close range.

“For a long time I didn’t see a lot of value in myself,’’ Baston said Thursday in the death chamber, the Toledo Blade reported. “It wasn’t until this moment, till I had to go through this ordeal, that I have seen so much love from so many people, letters from people all over the world, and even Ohio.’’

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Filed under: Crime • Death Penalty • Ohio
soundoff (464 Responses)
  1. sanjosemike

    TWO DIFFERENT SUBJECTS HERE: I understand the passion people have for and against active euthanasia for people who are suffering. I also understand the passion for and against the DP. However, for the sake of making it less confusing to read and more consistent, I'd suggest sticking to the subject of the article itself. Respectfully submitted: sanjosemike

    March 11, 2011 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
  2. Tiffany

    It's AMAZING that the very people who push for the death penalty also claim to be Christians. The biggest lesson of Christianity is forgiveness. I can't envision Jesus Christ jumping on message boards with glee over this man's execution.

    Same goes for the abortion debate. They argue that aborton is murder, yet bombing babies overseas is completely justified. The federal government shouldn't fund Planned Parenthood, but they should also cut benefits for unwed mothers and their young children! Does anyone else see the hypocrisy?

    March 11, 2011 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
    • steve

      well for your stupidity, we forgive you!

      March 11, 2011 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  3. Danielle

    To whoever Dan the Man is THANK YOU!!! I have been trying to tell people that for ages and nobody will listen. God said Thou shalt no kill and im pretty sure this isnt an exception. no matter what the person did. He said that revenge is his

    March 11, 2011 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
    • NMGrrL

      Well put!

      The commandment reads, "Thou shalt not kill (PERIOD)" - NOT "Thou shalt not kill, except..."

      I tend not to try the Biblical argument, because there is always a scripture going the other way also. The "eye for an eye" is a favorite in "support" of the death penalty, but good readers will realize that's NOT what it stands for. The commandments of G-d through Moses tend to have a little more authority, too, than other bits IMHO.

      March 11, 2011 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  4. Nighthhaawk

    Anyway, back to the subject of this blog: So they injected a guy with pentobarbital for shooting a store worker in the head and blowing his brains out for whatever this robber could get away with? Then this person infers that his actions were because of the lack of love in his life?? He should have been seriously medicated long before this! ... On thing good about the death penalty...it stops repeat offenders!

    March 11, 2011 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
  5. NMGrrL

    Did I miss something here? The headline says this man was executed using phenobarbital. The story then says he was executed using sodium thiopental. The latter seems to be a clear error, since in the prior paragraph the story describes the national shortage of sodium thiopental as the reason for the use of phenobarbital. The story entirely skips the reason for the national shortage of sodium thiopental, which is that the former manufacturer stopped making it when its only real market became use in executions.

    The bottom line, I suppose, is that we are still executing people for criminal convictions in the US, which is incredibly barbaric. We are members of a pariah alliance of very few nations that deem this practice legally acceptable.

    March 11, 2011 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  6. steve

    no big loss
    he was nothing but a thug who is not rotting in a level below the floor of hell!

    March 11, 2011 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  7. sk3ptic

    Dan the Man - at what point are we supposed to leave it up to God. Most of these people linger because we are trying to keep them alive, sometimes by hooking them up to machines. Shouldn't we just let them die? "Only God can pull the plug"? Then only God can put in the plug in the first place.

    March 11, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  8. pensimmon

    Guess what the cause of death is on an executed person's death certificate- it's HOMICIDE. Same exact thing as the criminal did. Makes us all party to a murder. What happened to Thou shalt not kill??? Life in prison without any chance of parole is a fearful punishment, which BTW is a lot cheaper than the death penalty!!! Also that means we wouldn't execute an innocent person. The family of the victim in Ohio had the moral virtue of not wanting the exection, but Ihio went ahead anyway, thus increasing the pain of this family. Way to go Ohio – it's sickening.

    March 11, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
  9. woodie

    I appreciate the tax savings from this. But I'd have much preferred he didn't murder Mr. Hah in the first place. Everyone loses in these things.

    March 11, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  10. ed bailey

    He could feel the love, ha ha! Can you feel the love now Mr murderer.

    March 11, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Bill C.

    I've never understood why we've felt the need to use poisons for human executions when depressants alone work just fine for euthanasia.

    March 11, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cashemire


      March 11, 2011 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gene

      Absolutely, pentobarbital is very gentle, twenty years from now we'll be singing them a lullaby if society keeps going in this direction.

      March 14, 2011 at 9:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Sal Monilla

      Oh so you've killed somebody with it? Thats how you know for sure?

      March 14, 2011 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      40 caliber hollow point is the perfect depressant...it depresses the front of the skull through the back of the skull. And at twenty five cents each there's no shortage.

      March 14, 2011 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Savanna

      why should a man be put to death when there are rapist, pedophiles who get lesser sentence than this man. America should change there ways!!

      March 14, 2011 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ACE


    March 11, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Name*Lobo74

      I love the vibe here today. Let's speed this process up. Seventeen years is too long. Bleeding hearts kiss our a$$.

      March 11, 2011 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Charles

    So he got the Heath Ledger / overdose treatment for free? Oh how I wish we could just hang people, we could even reuse the rope.

    March 11, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • VinoBianco

      It's actually a lot cheaper NOT to execute. Remind me what century we're in? The U.S. is still the only industrialized nation that has the death penalty. Let us evovle. Let us be reminded that our judicial system is too flawed and has made too many errors for us to continue this barbaric excuse for "justice"

      March 14, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Peter Live!

      Actually, the rope is NEVER used again for an execution, but burned – once stretched by the drop, it is vulnerable to breakage.

      A 100 mg intramuscular injection of fentanyl citrate (1000x the therapuetic dose) would do just nicely; eliminate the need for venous access; and allow the organs to be harvested for transplantation.

      With the horrid worldwide shortage of all organs for transplant, and the years long wait on transplant lists, it is time to make use of this human tissue (after all, the condemmed belongs to the state)....and save lives in recompense for those that the death row inmate in question has taken.

      I am sorry this man is dead, but 9 people – at least – could have benefited.

      March 14, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • JenniPoohBear


      Are you mad? It is NOT cheaper to keep these murderers alive. It costs the taxpayers MILLIONS of dollars to house, feed, educate, etc. them throughout the rest of their life. While I agree with you that rapists, molesters and other such monsters need a sentence similar to this one, I wholeheartedly disagree with you on allowing condemned men to live. They are a danger to society and we can't afford to keep footing the bill for them. Our prisons are already so overrun it is pathetic. We need to do the deed, get it over and done with and move on. And we need to do it quickly, not let them grow to a ripe old age before we carry out the sentence.

      March 15, 2011 at 2:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Codifex Maximus

      Peter Live! You need to read Larry Niven – specifically the stories about the organ banks.

      March 15, 2011 at 3:07 am | Report abuse |
  14. MIKE

    Good job and cheap

    March 11, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jobob

    The loss of a life always brings sorrow, for everyone is someone's son or daughter, and in every human life there is merit. That said, there are consequences to human actions. As painful and difficult as it may at times be, it is the responsibility of a society's members to hold accountable those who knowingly and willingly take another's life. In some cases, this punishment takes the form of life in prison, or x number of years in prison, after which the individual is released. In other cases, the punishment is the taking of the individual's life. I see capital punishment as a necessary and just punishment in certain cases. (Each individual and his/her crime(s) must be individually examined and judged, lest we adopt a 'one size fits all' approach to the legal system.) I am unmoved by the argument that it acts as a deterrent (my belief is that most people who commit murder do not plan to be caught, and so give little or no thought to the punishment their actions may incur), and similarly disregard any religious arguments concerning whether humans either should or should not use capital punishment. Though it may in some cases give the family of the victim closure and/or a sense that justice has been done, capital punishment is less about seeking justice on behalf of the victim and his/her family than it is about society as a whole determining the appropriate consequences and punishment for an individual's decision to take another person's life.

    March 11, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • steve

      The saddest thing besides the innocent South Korean man being killed is that his killer was able to somewhat reflect on his actions before being executed. There are a lot of people in this country that don't value human life and not even there own.

      March 11, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rachelle

      In many ways, I agree with you. Execution is not a deterrent. The way our legal system works allows appeals to go on for years if not decades costing tax payers a lot of money. But a speedy execution without appeals can send an innocent to an undeserved irreversible death. The answer must lay within how we run prisons. What kind of rehab is there for those unfit to live with general society? None. I am impressed by this article, by Johnnie Baston, because he hit the nail on the head– Love is the answer. Unconditional Love. I believe he is truly repentant for his crimes. I believe he finally got the message, a message that we all need to embrace, and soon, as our world–not just our country, but everywhere on our planet is suffering from a lack of unconditional love and the tolerance and forbearance that goes with it. We as a species could do so much good and suppress so much evil if we would only embrace Unconditional Love for ourselves and others. I'm not a religious person, but I do believe the best line in the entire bible is the one about "doing unto others as you would have them do to you". If we all made this our mantra, our motto, and used it as a guide each and every action we make, perhaps, perhaps we could finally have a heaven on earth.

      March 11, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • ItsCalledConsequences


      So true. And it's legal, too, because the penalty statutes are worded like "and the penalty for murder committed during armed robbery shall be either life without parole, or death by lethal injection, unless the condemned shows geniune remorse, at which time he shall be set free."

      March 11, 2011 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • pronco

      You have absolutely no clue what you're talking about, but at least you think, so that's a start.

      March 12, 2011 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • So Con

      he will never have the opp to kill again!

      March 14, 2011 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Slats

      Isn't your whole paragraph basically a "Captain Obvious" recital?

      March 14, 2011 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Slats

      Oh and I agree 100% with Pronco.

      March 14, 2011 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      Very well said.

      March 14, 2011 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Nathan

      This is probably one of the most logical and intelligent arguments for the use of capital punishment. I disagree with it but this is a good argument that I can respect.

      March 14, 2011 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Ancient Marinator

      In short, killing bad, not killing good.

      March 14, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
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