Wednesday, May 14, 2014
HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — Texas had planned to carry out the nation's first execution since one went awry in Oklahoma, but it was halted because a federal appeals court says the inmate's attorneys should be allowed to pursue appeals arguing he's mentally impaired and ineligible for the death penalty.
Oklahoma has put executions on hold while it investigates what caused an inmate's vein to collapse during his lethal injection.
Here are some details about the execution that had been scheduled for Tuesday in Texas:
WHO WAS TO BE EXECUTED AND WHAT WAS THE CRIME?
Robert James Campbell, 41, of Houston, was condemned for the 1991 abduction, robbery, rape and fatal shooting of Alexandra Rendon, 20, a Houston bank teller. Rendon was abducted while putting gas into her car. Her body was found 11 days later in a muddy field.
WHAT IS TEXAS' EXECUTION METHOD?
Texas has a single-drug injection method using a lethal dose of the sedative pentobarbital. Texas obtained a new supply of pentobarbital in late March after its previous stock reached its expiration date. Seven executions were successfully carried out using the previous supply; Campbell's would be the fourth using the new stock.
Texas carried out the nation's first lethal injection in 1982 and used a three-drug procedure until switching to pentobarbital in 2012. The state has executed 515 inmates, including the last 33 with the single-drug method.
HOW DOES THAT DIFFER FROM OKLAHOMA?
Oklahoma has a three-drug lethal injection method that includes the drugs midazolam, vecuronium bromide and potassium chloride — all potent drugs with potentially serious side effects. Midazolam is a short-acting sedative sometimes used to calm patients before medical procedures or before surgery involving general anesthesia. Vecuronium bromide is a muscle relaxant and used during some surgeries. Potassium chloride is used to treat potassium deficiency but is used in executions to stop the heart.
WHAT WENT WRONG IN OKLAHOMA?
Inmate Clayton Lockett writhed on the gurney, gritted his teeth, lifted his head several times and moaned before dying of an apparent heart attack 43 minutes after the start of his execution on April 29.
A doctor inside the death chamber reported Lockett's vein had collapsed and some of the lethal drugs were absorbed into his tissue or leaked out. The prison system director then called off the execution, but Lockett died about 10 minutes later. A state report showed Lockett had an intravenous tap placed at his groin because suitable veins couldn't be found elsewhere in his body.
Oklahoma has put executions on hold while an investigation is ongoing, but authorities have suggested the trouble started with Lockett's vein rather than the drugs. Many defense attorneys, meanwhile, argue the incident bolsters calls for greater execution drug transparency.
DOES TEXAS PUBLICLY REVEAL THE SOURCE OF ITS EXECUTION DRUGS?
Texas officials have refused to identify the source of the state's latest batch of pentobarbital, citing fears of threats against the provider. There is little evidence such threats exist. The state's previous supplier was revealed only after The Associated Press submitted an open records request to the prison agency. Several other death penalty states also have balked at disclosing providers, citing laws shielding the identities of all participants in the death penalty process.
WHY HAVE STATES HAD TO SEEK DRUGS FROM NEW PROVIDERS?
Death penalty opponents have pressured drug manufacturers, many of them in Europe where capital punishment opposition is strong, to withhold sales of their products from U.S. prison and corrections agencies for use in the death penalty.