Louisiana delays execution after challenge to lethal drug combo

Mon Feb 3, 2014 10:33pm EST

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Feb 3 (Reuters) - Louisiana was ordered on Monday to delay for 90 days the execution of a convicted killer that had been planned with a mix of the same two drugs that left a condemned Ohio inmate gasping and convulsing as he was put to death.

Christopher Sepulvado had been scheduled to die on Wednesday at a Louisiana prison using a combination of the sedative midazolam and pain killer hydromorphone if the regularly listed drug pentobarbital was unavailable.

U.S. District Court Judge James Brady ordered the execution delayed at least until May 4 and set a trial to begin April 7 on a defense challenge to the constitutionality of the state's execution methods.

"The stay will allow additional time for review and responses to outstanding issues related to the execution," Louisiana's corrections department said in a statement.

Lawyers for Sepulvado had argued they could not prepare an adequate appeal if Louisiana did not disclose what drugs it planned to use for the execution or determine whether he would face pain and suffering in violation of the U.S. Constitution's protection against cruel and unusual punishment.

Sepulvado was convicted in 1993 of killing his 6-year-old stepson and sentenced to death.

Louisiana and other states have been increasingly forced to look for alternate sources of execution drugs as pharmaceutical companies raise objections to their products being used for capital punishment.

Some states have turned to compounding pharmacies, which produce small amounts of drugs by prescription and are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, prompting defense attorneys to question the quality of the drugs and whether they could cause undue pain during an execution.

Ohio turned to a combination of midazolam and hydromorphone never before used in an execution in the United States to put Dennis McGuire to death in January. Media witnesses said at the time he appeared to struggle for breath during the execution. (Reporting by David Bailey in Minneapolis; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Lisa Shumaker)

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Comments (1)
He murdered his 6 yr old stepson!

“After an argument with the child over getting ready for church that Sunday morning, March 8, investigators say Sepulvado struck Mercer numerous times over the head with the handle of a screwdriver leaving him unconscious. They say he then lowered the boy into a tub filled with scalding water.

Rives recalled early in the investigation when he measured the temperature of a tub of hot water in Sepulvado’s house.

“I immediately looked at the water heater as to what the thermostat was on the water heater, said Rives.

“If I remember correctly it was 210 degrees.”

Evidence showed Sepulvado made up his story. Mercer’s autopsy showed severe burns on the boy’s back and not his hands and toes, which is consistent with Sepulvado pushing the child down into the water, according to Evans.

It was a horrifying end to a young life.”

Did the little boy endure pain and suffering?

Feb 04, 2014 8:45am EST  --  Report as abuse
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