Texas plans first execution since Oklahoma's botched lethal injection

AUSTIN, Texas Tue May 13, 2014 3:51pm EDT

Robert Campbell is pictured in this undated handout photo courtesy of Texas Department of Criminal Justice. REUTERS/Texas Department of Criminal Justice/Handout via Reuters

Robert Campbell is pictured in this undated handout photo courtesy of Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Credit: Reuters/Texas Department of Criminal Justice/Handout via Reuters

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AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Texas is set to put to death convicted rapist and murderer Robert James Campbell on Tuesday in the first execution in the United States since a botched lethal injection in Oklahoma in April raised questions about capital punishment in the country.

Lawyers for Campbell appealed on Tuesday for a stay from the Supreme Court, saying the problems in Oklahoma and secrecy surrounding execution drugs demand a halt to allow for a sober reflection on how the death penalty is carried out.

Texas plans to execute Campbell, 41, at 6 p.m. CDT by a lethal injection of the sedative pentobarbital at its death chamber in Huntsville. He would be the 21st inmate executed this year in the United States.

"The Texas Department of Criminal Justice does not have plans to change its execution protocol based upon the Oklahoma incident," the department said in a statement.

Oklahoma attempted to halt the April 29 execution of convicted murderer Clayton Lockett after what prison officials said was a blown vein that made them unsure if the lethal cocktail was being properly administered.

Lockett, mumbling and in apparent pain on a prison gurney with an IV in his groin, died of an apparent heart attack 43 minutes after the procedure started. The execution was the state's first use of a new three-drug lethal injection mix.

"We are in a new era since just two weeks ago. The public has not been closely engaged in the lethal injection debate until that case broke in Oklahoma," said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, which monitors capital punishment.

The White House said the Oklahoma execution failed to meet humane standards. President Barack Obama said it raised questions about the death penalty and that he would ask the U.S. attorney general to look into the situation.

Campbell was convicted along with a co-defendant of kidnapping Alexandra Rendon from a Houston gas station in 1991. The pair drove her to a desolate area, raped her and then told her to run.

Campbell then shot her in the back and left her to die, stealing her car to get away.

"Words can't describe the brutality of this crime," Israel Santana, a cousin of Rendon and a Houston defense attorney, told Reuters. "I can't imagine what her final few hours were like. This guy deserves what he has coming to him."

Oklahoma, Texas and other states have been scrambling to find new suppliers and chemical combinations after drug makers, mostly in Europe, imposed sales bans because they objected to having medications made for other purposes being used in lethal injections.

The states have turned to lightly regulated compounding pharmacies, which can mix chemical for medicines, to supply the drugs, while trying to keep the name of supplier secret.

Lawyers for death row inmates have argued there may be problems with purity and potency of the chemicals that come from these compounding pharmacies, raising questions about whether they should be used to prepare lethal injection drugs.

Attorneys for Campbell said in a writ filed on Tuesday with the Supreme Court that it was time for states to provide information about who makes and supplies the drugs.

"Mr. Campbell is not seeking an indefinite stay of execution, but rather a stay sufficient to allow examination and adjudication of the manner and means by which the Texas Department of Criminal Justice intends to carry out his execution," they said in the writ.

Texas has executed 515 prisoners, more than any other state, since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Edith Honan and Mohammad Zargham)

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Comments (1)
0ldRNCowboy wrote:
Texas doesn’t buy its lethal injection drugs from Wal-Mart like the Okies up north. Texas buys it in bulk straight from the manufacturer, sure don’t want to run out when it’s needed. That would be like a barbeque with no beer!

The crimes committed that landed these people on death row were heinous and cold blooded. According to this article Campbell killed his victim in 1991. That means he has failed to prove his innocence or even establish any doubt to his murder conviction over thirteen years of appeals. All of his attorney’s fees and court costs paid with the taxpayer’s dime. He has been given thirteen more years of life than he allowed his victim. Does anyone really care at this point if a convicted murderer feels a little discomfort when he gets a quick stick in the arm? Perhaps they should give the prisoners on death row their choice of execution methods; lethal injection, gas chamber, electric chair, hanging or even firing squad (if they can find the ammo).

Capital punishment serves a very real and necessary purpose in our legal system and our society. The outspoken folks who rally against capital punishment change their tune quickly when they or their loved ones are the victims of these murderous animals.

May 13, 2014 6:03pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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