Dennis McGuire, Ohio


January 16, 2014

Dennis B. McGuire was executed at 10:53 am EST, on January 16, 2014, at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Mansfield, Ohio. Fifty-three-year-old Dennis was convicted of kidnapping, raping, and murdering 22-year-old Joy Stewart, who was pregnant, on February 11, 1989, near Bantas Creek, Ohio. Dennis is the first inmate in the United States to be executed using a combination of midazolam, a sedative, and hydromorphone, a morphine derivative. Dennis has spent the past 18 years on Ohio’s death row.

Last December, Dennis made a request similar to the one made by fellow Ohio death row inmate Ronald Phillips. Phillips was granted a six month stay so that Governor John Kasich had sufficient time determine if Ronald's request to donate his organs to family members was viable. Dennis' requested to donate his organs in December, however, he was unable to specify family members to receive the organs, which is a requirement under the state's inmate organ donation policy. For that reason, Governor Kasich rejected the request.

Dennis was executed using Ohio's back up execution protocol, a combination of midazolam, a sedative, and hydromorphone, a painkiller. He is the first person executed using this combination and this first person executed in Ohio this year.Attorneys for Dennis feared that the drugs would cause extreme pain during the execution, however, there appeared to be no such problems.

Two years after Dennis was born, his parents divorced. Dennis was left in the care of his mother, living with her until he was 18 years old, except when he would occasionally run away to be with his father and brother. Growing up, Dennis’ mother was involved with several men who would verbally abuse Dennis and physically abuse his mother in front of him. Dennis and his mother also frequently moved, leading Dennis to drop out of school after the ninth grade. After dropping out of school, Dennis began using marijuana.


Joy Stewart’s body was found by two hikers on February 12, 1989, in the woods near Bantas Creek. The front of her shirt was soaked in blood and she had a “blood wipe mark” on her right arm. An autopsy revealed that Joy had been stabbed twice in the neck. The first stab did not cause much damage, but the second stab severed the carotid artery and jugular vein, which caused Joy’s death. Joy had also been raped and sperm samples were collected.


Investigators had few leads until December 1989, when Dennis McGuire, who was in jail for an unrelated offense, asked to speak to the investigator about Joy’s murder. McGuire said that Jerry Richardson, his brother-in-law killed Joy. Investigators grew suspicious of McGuire when he was able to provide details about the murder that had not been publicly released. McGuire was also able to lead investigators to the knife used in the murder.


The morning before Joy’s body was found, she went to a friend’s, Juanita Deaton, house for a late breakfast. McGuire was also there, as he had been hired to clean the ice out of the gutters. Juanita testified that before Joy left, she saw Joy talking to two men in a dark-colored car. Juanita was unable to determine the identity of the two males. Shortly after Joy left, McGuire also left.


McGuire’s brother-in-law, Jerry Richardson, testified that McGuire came over to his house that afternoon. Joy also came over, separately, and asked for some marijuana. When McGuire offered to get her some, they left together, in McGuire’s vehicle.


When McGuire talked to the police, he told them Jerry wanted to have sex with Joy, but Joy refused. According to McGuire, Jerry then pulled a knife on Joy and forced her to have oral sex with him before he sodomized her. Finally, McGuire alleged that Jerry stabbed Joy “in the shoulder bone” and “cut her throat.” These details, provided by McGuire, were not public knowledge, although consistent with the autopsy report. McGuire then led police to where the knife was hidden. In a second interview, McGuire provided additional information, that Jerry had choked Joy before stabbing her and had wiped off his bloody hands on her, which was also consistent, although not public knowledge.


McGuire also said that Jerry was driving his mother’s blue Ford Escort the day of the murder, however, Jerry’s mother later testified that she had traded in the Escort one year before the murder. Furthermore, she was driving her car the day of the murder; Jerry would not have had access to it.


On December 24, 1989, McGuire was visited by an old friend. McGuire told his friend that Jerry and he had killed Joy, but he was going to blame it all on Jerry. Additionally, an inmate in the jail testified that McGuire had told another inmate about the crime and, at time, implicated himself. A second inmate testified that McGuire had told him that he raped Joy, after which Joy became “hysterical,” and McGuire killed Joy, fearing he would end up in jail for raping a pregnant woman.


In 1992, DNA testing was performed on samples from Joy’s body and clothing and compared to blood samples from McGuire, Jerry, and Joy’s husband. Jerry and Joy’s husband were eliminated as being possible suspects. In December of 1994, McGuire was convicted and sentenced to die. DNA testing was again conducted in 2002, and identified McGuire as the rapist.


Please pray for peace for the family of Joy Stewart. Please pray for strength for the family of Dennis McGuire.



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