Missouri plans execution after Oklahoma stay over drug secrecy

KANSAS CITY, Missouri Tue Apr 22, 2014 3:49pm EDT

Missouri death row inmate William Rousan, 57, is seen in a March 27, 2014 photo released by the Missouri Department of Corrections. REUTERS/Missouri Department of Corrections/Handout

Missouri death row inmate William Rousan, 57, is seen in a March 27, 2014 photo released by the Missouri Department of Corrections.

Credit: Reuters/Missouri Department of Corrections/Handout

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KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Reuters) - Lawyers for a Missouri death row inmate on Tuesday filed an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to halt his execution over concerns about the state's secret lethal injection drugs, a day after an Oklahoma court stopped two executions there over similar issues.

William Rousan, 57, is scheduled for execution at 12:01 a.m. Central Time (1.01 a.m. ET) on Wednesday. Rousan was convicted of murdering 62-year-old Grace Lewis and her 67-year-old husband, Charles Lewis, in 1993 in a plot to steal the farm couple's cattle.

In their petition to the U.S. Supreme Court, Rousan's attorneys said the state was planning to use "compounded pentobarbital prepared by an unknown person in an unknown manner, without any assurance by an accredited laboratory that the substance is what the state purports it to be."

The attorneys argue that Rousan has a right to know what he will be injected with, and that Missouri's secret execution drugs could cause undue suffering. Missouri has refused to provide a lab analysis of the compounded mixture it intends to use, the appeal states.

"Death, of course, is the goal of an execution. But it may not be inflicted in a manner that presents a 'substantial risk of serious harm,'" it says.

On Monday, the Oklahoma Supreme Court halted the executions of Clayton Lockett, scheduled for Tuesday, and Charles Warner, scheduled for April 29. The court said the inmates had the right to have an opportunity to challenge the secrecy over the drugs Oklahoma intends to use to put them to death.

On Tuesday, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt filed a motion in the Oklahoma Supreme Court seeking a rehearing on the stay of execution order.

Many states have turned to the lightly regulated compounding pharmacies for supplies because makers of drugs traditionally used in lethal injections have largely stopped making them available for executions.

But lawyers for death row inmates in several states have argued that drugs obtained for lethal injections from compounding pharmacies could lead to undue suffering, which would amount to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the U.S. Constitution. They also say they should have information about the legitimacy of the supplier, and details about the purity and potency of the drugs.

Prison officials have rejected those arguments and have been refusing to reveal where they are getting the drugs.

Louisiana and Ohio, however, have seen executions delayed this year because of concerns about suffering that might be caused by untraditional drug supplies. The family of one inmate executed in Ohio in January has filed suit against the state because, according to some witnesses, he took an unusually long time to die and appeared to be in pain.

Last year, Missouri started classifying compounding pharmacies as part of its execution team and said the identities of the pharmacies were thus shielded from public disclosure.

(Reporting by Carey Gillam; Additional reporting by Heide Brandes in Oklahoma City; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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Comments (7)
Robert76 wrote:
I really don’t have any sympathy for murderers worrying about what drugs will be used to put them to death. Want to stop the Death Penalty? It is very easy. Do not commit the crime for which you are sentenced to death. It is that simple. If people would quit murdering the innocents, there would be no need for a Death Penalty.

For all the anti death penalty people, here is the challenge. Teach people not to murder the innocents – in fact get criminals of all sorts to simply not commit the crimes in the first place.

Apr 22, 2014 10:36am EDT  --  Report as abuse
gcf1965 wrote:
But Robert, you are talking about personal responsibility and accountability, a concept the progressive left wants abolished from society. The reason people commit crime is because you do not provide more of your hard earned resources to them to make them feel better about themselves and to be more equal to you. It is all your fault.

Apr 22, 2014 12:02pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
gcf1965 wrote:
A 9mm round through the temple causes no suffering and is very very cheap and efficient.

Apr 22, 2014 12:03pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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