Thursday 27 January 2011

How will Texas be affected by end of lethal injection drug?

Four convicted murderers are awaiting their date with eternity on Texas Death Row in the early part of 2011.  Lawyers in Wichita Falls speculated Wednesday  what impact the shortage of one of the lethal injection drugs will have on those executions.
Prosecutors in the Wichita County District Attorney's Office have successfully persuaded several juries to send convicted murderers to Texas Death Row. 
One Wichita Falls resident said that he thought the guillotine was supposed to be the most humane form of execution, but he doubted Texas would ever resort to that.
The recent announcement that Texas only has enough of the drug sodium thiopenatal to execute the two men scheduled for lethal injection in February has raised questions as to what will happen to the men scheduled for the gurney after February. 
Michael Wayne Hall is scheduled to be executed in Texas on February 15, 2011.  Timothy Adams is to receive his lethal injection on February 22.  Those two men  will probably go down in history as the last two people in Texas to be executed by the current form of lethal injection.
Cary Kerr is scheduled to meet with the Texas executioner on May 3 while Humberto Leal is slated for July 7.
Kerr was convicted for raping, beating and strangling a woman he met in a Fort Worth bar in the summer of 2001.  Pamela Horton, 34, is the victim whose body was found after being  spotted by a taxi driver on the pavement in Haltom City, not far from Wichita Falls, Texas.
According to all reports, Texas will be out of the drug by the time May rolls around which means both Kerr and Leal may have their lives extended until a new option is found.
Will their executions be delayed?  Or are there alternative means of execution available which will allow the executions to run on schedule?
Jason Clark, a spokesperson for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, recently said that the Lone Star State is already exploring the use of another anesthetic.
Oklahoma, which borders Wichita County, Texas, has already gone to an alternative drug in two executions.  The Sooner State used pentobarbitol, an anesthetic commonly used to put cats and dogs to sleep.
Predictably, a storm of protest has arisen over the use of the other drug by death penalty critics inside and outside of Oklahoma.
It's ironic that a drug manufacturer may do  more to slow down executions than all the anti-death penalty groups combined.
Already there has been an increasing shortage of the drug sodium thiopental which has caused the delay of executions in several states.
Hospira Inc. of Illinois is the only manufacturer of the drug.  The corporation recentlly announced it will discontinue production of the drug.  The drug is used in hospitals for other medical purposes.
Hospira recently  moved its production of the lethal injection drug to a plant in Italy.  The Italian government, which does not have a death penalty, requested a promise from Hospira that the drug would  not be used in executions.
The American company said it couldn't guarantee that,  Rather than risk the displeasure of Italy, they terminated the manufacture of the drug leaving  the 34 states in the United States which use the drug high and dry.
Hospira has long opposed the use of the drug in executions.  Until recently, the corporation manufactured the drug in a North Carolina plant.
The biggest mystery surrounds Cleve Foster.  He was already served one last meal before his execution which was scheduled in January was delayed.  The United States Supreme Court then overruled his lawyer's motions which put him back on track for execution.  How much more time will this latest delay  buy him?
A second date has not yet been set for his execution and second last meal.

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