AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Texas on Tuesday carried out its first execution using a sedative often used to euthanize animals.
Cary Kerr, 46, was put to death by lethal injection for the 2001 sexual assault and strangling of Pamela Horton.
The new drug, pentobarbital, replaced sodium thiopental in Texas’ three-drug execution protocol.
The change was necessary because Hospira Inc. of Illinois announced in January it would stop making the sodium thiopental after Italy objected to Hospira manufacturing an execution drug in that country. That caused a shortage of the drug throughout the United States.
Ohio and Oklahoma have already switched to use of pentobarbital in executions.
Another Texas inmate, Cleve Foster, had been scheduled to be the first person in the state executed using the new drug last month. But Foster received a temporary stay of execution from the U.S. Supreme Court over concerns his state-appointed lawyers were ineffective.
Kerr was pronounced dead at 6:19 p.m. on Tuesday, said Michelle Lyons, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
“To the state of Texas: I am an innocent man,” were among Kerr’s final words, according to Lyons. “Never trust a court-appointed attorney. I am ready, warden.”
For his last meal, Kerr requested a long list of food, including lasagna, spaghetti, pizza, fried chicken, baked chicken, tacos, pork ribs, deep-fried mushrooms, a cheeseburger, french fries, quiche and ice cream, according to Jason Clark, a spokesman for the Department.
Kerr was the third prisoner to be put to death this year in Texas, which executes more prisoners than any other state.
Texas executed 17 people in 2010, down from 24 in 2009.
Editing by Jerry Norton