Federal judge allowing open phone line during execution

January 16, 2019
This undated photo provided by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction shows Warren Keith Henness. The Ohio man sentenced to death in the fatal shooting of a volunteer addiction counselor is proclaiming his innocence and asking that his life be spared, according to arguments by his attorneys a month before his scheduled execution. The Ohio Parole Board scheduled arguments for and against mercy Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. Henness is set to die by lethal injection on Feb. 13 at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville. (Ohio Department of Rehabilitation via AP)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A federal judge is once again allowing the use of an open phone line to his courtroom during an Ohio execution.

Tuesday’s decision by Judge Michael Merz permits use of a system created in 2017 when defense attorneys tried unsuccessfully to stop an execution based on the inmate’s reaction to the lethal drugs.

Under the order, attorneys for condemned killer Keith Henness and an assistant attorney general will be on the line with the judge and a court reporter in case something goes awry.

The 55-year-old Henness is set to die next month for the fatal shooting of volunteer addiction counselor Richard Meyers in Columbus in 1992.

Henness says he’s innocent and received poor legal help at the time of trial. Prosecutors say Henness is lying about his innocence.

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