MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Oklahoma News

April 8, 2014

State seeks to prevent delay of executions over drugs

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP)  — The Oklahoma attorney general’s office has defended a new three-drug procedure the state intends to use for two executions this month, citing testimony from an anesthesiologist who has successfully used the first drug in neurosurgeries.

In a court filing Monday, state prosecutors asked the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals to deny requests by Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner to stay their executions, which the state plans to carry out at the end of the month.

According to the state’s filing, a professor of anesthesiology at the University of Massachusetts testified that he has used midazolam, the first drug of three in the procedure the state has indicated it will use, as “‘the first and primary drug to induce anesthesia’ in neurosurgeries during a drug shortage” and that a 50-milligram dose prevented his patients “from perceiving the noxious stimuli associated with neurosurgery.” The Florida Supreme Court rejected Eighth Amendment challenges to their execution protocol based on that testimony.

Lawyers for the inmates contended in their request for a stay that the state has not provided adequate time for them to research the method of execution, a three-drug combination of midazolam, pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride, which has only been used in executions in Florida and not in the same doses. Whereas Florida used 500 milligrams of midazolam, Oklahoma’s procedure calls for 100 milligrams, which the state suggests is more than enough to make the inmate unconscious.

The state also cited recent decisions in the 5th and 8th U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals in similar cases challenging state secrecy that sided with the states and the denial by the U.S. Supreme Court to rule in those cases.

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