REVIEW: The Second Execution of Romell Broom @ CIFF

The Second Execution of Romell Broom

Reviewed by Mansfield Frazier

It took German documentary filmmaker Michael Verhoeven to come to Ohio and make a film that examines the death penalty. In the end, The Second Execution of Romell Broom, which had its world premiere at the Cleveland International Film Festival on Monday, raises as many questions as it answers in regards to the guilt or innocence of the title character.

But the purpose of the gripping tale, shot primarily in Columbus and Cleveland and featuring local legend Yvonne Pointer (whose own 14-year-old daughter was brutally raped and killed 25 years ago), wasn’t to exculpate Broom of the crime… but to highlight the barbaric practice — and at that it exceeded quite well.

Broom was scheduled to be executed in September of 2009 for the rape/murder of 14-year-old Tryna Middleton of East Cleveland, but the technicians assigned to administer the lethal drug cocktail via an IV drip could not locate a suitable vein… in spite of a two- hour attempt and poking 19 holes in his body. Frustrated with the executioner’s failed attempts, Broom tried to help them locate a suitable vein for them to use.

Granted a week’s stay of execution by then-Governor Ted Strickland, Broom’s lawyers have fought tooth and nail to make the case that once the states has tried and failed to kill someone, they should not be allowed to try again. The case is currently winding its way through the court system.

But the real tragedy of state-sanctioned murder wasn’t played out in the film as much as it was played out after the film. Many of the people featured in the documentary (full disclosure: I appeared in the film) were in the audience and participated in a Q & A after the screening. That’s when the real pain of the death penalty evidenced itself. Many of the victims, family members of the accused, and even the lawyers who participated in the case are still suffering almost 30 years after the brutal act… because the death penalty is still being litigated.

If Broom had been given life without the possibility of parole all of these people could by now have moved on with their lives.  As the case currently stands they’ll have at least another decade of twisting in the ill winds of this abominable practice.



From Cool Cleveland correspondent Mansfield B. Frazier Frazier’s From Behind The Wall: Commentary on Crime, Punishment, Race and the Underclass by a Prison Inmate is available again in hardback. Snag your copy and have it signed by the author by visiting

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5 Responses to “REVIEW: The Second Execution of Romell Broom @ CIFF”

  1. Edward C. Stengel

    I remember the day they tried to execute Rommel Broom. They spent over 2 hous, with several breaks in between, trying to locate a suitable vein, which they were unable to do. A nurse who had witnessed these many failed attempts had to leave the room because she was so sickened by this obvious torture. I believe when the governor was informed about the predicament of being unable to locate a vein and finally called off the execution until further notice, it was probably the first time in the history of the state of Ohio, and perhaps anywhere in the United States, that an execution by lethal injection was cancelled because of the inability to find a vein for the execution. Rommel Broom was tortured and treated like a porcupine. I think that anyone who followed this abominable episode would probably agree that it’s time to ban capital punishment in the whole country. If the actual physical torture is not enough to turn one against the death penalty, the time it takes in most states to carry out the execution, which is often 25 years or more, should be sufficient.

  2. ESK8UP

    What about the girl he killed? Capital punishment is for those who take others life. The person who wrote the last comment should take Tynra’s spot.

  3. lisablu67

    Really!!! torture, try being a 14 year old girl who is chased down, brutally raped, sodomized, and then murdered all at the hands of this sick ass monster. So what he was poked with a needle several times over a matter of 2 hours. How long did young Tryna Middleton suffer how long has her mother been suffering. Kill this sorry piece of shit and let her family get on with their lives. They need a firing squad.

  4. Bethany

    So what, two wrongs makes a right? He killed and raped the girl which I agree is a terrible, horrific thing to do. But if you kill him then you stoop just as low as he did. And furthermore, it is not our job to play God by condemning a person to death as a way of punishment. It is never okay to take another humans life. Never, even if a human killed another human. And anyway, if you would read his crime details you would find that his DNA was not an exact match. Granted there’s a nearly impossible chance that it was not him who did it, but there’s still a possibility that it is not him, and he still maintains his innocence to this day. I fully believe that the fact that they failed at their execution attempt was in fact God intervening and stopping them from taking that mans life. It might be because he was really innocent, or the guy could have actually committed the crime and God still saw a reason to keep him alive, possibly as a way to get society to stop trying to do His job by taking other people’s life’s. Whatever the reason God decided to keep him around, I don’t think that his case is something to be ignored.

  5. PieCatLady

    I doubt that killing the killer brings closure to victims in the heinous cases. I’ve read that many say the execution doesn’t bring the relief they expected. True closure, in any tragic loss, comes from acceptance and forgiveness. Otherwise anger and the desire for revenge can fester like poison in the victim’s heart and mind.

    Execution is a barbaric form of state-sponsored vengeance. It is cruel punishment on its face, even when lethal injection is used. Right now, in 38 states, the death penalty is legal. That doesn’t make it moral. We disguise it as a benign-looking medical procedure – when it goes off as planned. Thus we distance ourselves from responsibility, but We the People are complicit in deliberately taking a human life. Right now, 55 percent polled would favor life without parole, especially with an element of restitution, as opposed to the death penalty. Go to, the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, to join the fight to end capital punishment. We say, “Not in MY name!”

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