Romell Broom was convicted of murdering 14-year-old Tryna Middleton, whom he kidnapped while she was walking to her home in East Cleveland, Ohio.
On the night of Sept. 21, 1984, Tryna, who was a ninth-grade student at Shaw High School, went to the Shaw-Garfield Heights football game with two of her friends, according to The Marion Star.
When the game ended, the three girls began walking home. It was then that they noticed a beige or gold vehicle parked on the side of the roadway, following them with its headlights off.
They sensed something was amiss, so they opted to take a different route home. But the driver of the vehicle was apparently familiar with the area and had guessed which way they would go.
By the time they reached the next corner, the vehicle was already there. As the girls hurriedly walked past it, a man exited the vehicle with a knife in his hand and forced Tryna into his vehicle before he drove off.
The man initially tried to kidnap all three girls, but two of them were able to escape. They ran to a nearby house, where they called their parents and notified the police.
Two hours later, Tryna was found dead. A couple discovered her partially clothed body near the parking lot at Forest Hill Park.
An autopsy showed that she had been sexually assaulted and stabbed seven times in the chest with a sharp object, which obliterated her heart muscle.
Although Tryna’s friends gave police officials a description of her killer, they were unable to bring him to justice at that time.
That’s when the FBI offered a $5,000 reward for specific information that would later lead to an arrest.
Three months later, police charged Broom, who was 28 years old at the time, with the teen’s slaying.
He was already incarcerated at the time for forcing an 11-year-old girl into his vehicle and attempting to drive off with her.
However, his kidnapping attempt was thwarted when his car became stuck on ice.
It was at that time that the girl’s mother ran toward the car and instructed her daughter to get out.
Two bystanders witnessed the attempted kidnapping and wrote down his license plate.
When police caught up with Broom, he was taken into custody. The victim and her mother, including the witnesses, were identified him as the suspect.
Investigators then contacted Tryna’s friends,after realizing that the 11-year-old girl’s case was similar to Tryna’s.
The girls identified Broom as the man who kidnapped Tryna, and it was later uncovered that his DNA matched the DNA found on Tryna’s body.
Experts said it “matched so closely that there exists only a one in 2.3 million chance that Broom was not the attacker.”
He has a criminal record dating back to when he was a 13-year-old boy.
Just four months before he kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and murdered Tryna, for which he was sentenced to death, he was paroled after serving eight-and-a-half years in prison for rape.
“Many other cases have shown that forensic tests in the 80s and 90s were not reliable.”
He appealed his conviction. He claimied that he was denied a fair trial, but in May 1989, it was rejected by the Supreme Court.
On Sept. 15, 2009, Broom was scheduled to be executed by lethal injection at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, but that was unsuccessfull.
Prison technicians were unable to find a sturdy vein, which they believe was due to recent drug use.
Prosecutors believe that he caused the delay, as he took a box full of antihistamines the day before his execution.
The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction then brought in a doctor, who did not have any experience or training, to help with locating a viable vein but that too was unsuccessful.
For two hours, Broom screamed and cried out in agony as they pricked him at least 18 times with the needle on his arms, hands, wrists, and ankles—hitting his bone and muscle.
Broom “tried to help by turning onto his side, sliding rubber tubing up his left arm, and moving his arm up and down while flexing and opening his fingers,” according to the Equal Justice Initiative.
Finally, then-Governor Ted Strickland stopped the execution. It was postponed for a week, and during that time, prison officials were ordered to research ways to execute an inmate without torment.
Meanwhile, Broom was sent back to death row at the Chillicothe Correctional Institute.
Robert Dunham, the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, said: “His case will stand out because it is one of the most significant botched executions in American history.”
“This case, more than any other, demonstrates the dangers in attempting to carry out these procedures. Lethal injection has the appearance of a medical procedure, but it is carried out by non-medical personnel.”
Broom was made aware that the state would try to execute him for a second time, and he did everything in his power to prevent it from happening.
He argued that the state should not be allowed to execute him again after he underwent a botched lethal injection.
His lawyers said, “To force a man to prepare for his death, not once but twice—and the second time with the full knowledge of the error of the first, is an elevation of punishment repugnant to our Constitution.”
The Supreme Court rejected Broom’s argument, as they said he was “never in jeopardy of execution,” the needle was never inserted into his vein, and the fatal drug was never administered.
While he was getting pricked with the needle, he was in a holding cell and not the execution chamber.
The state decided to continue with the execution, which was scheduled for March 2022, but on Dec. 28, 2020, Broom died from “possible complications of COVID-19,” according to the state prison system.
Broom was 64 years old at the time of his death.