Friday, February 1, 2013

Kentucky moves closer to new execution method

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — At least three death row inmates could be nearing execution as Kentucky moves toward a new lethal injection method.

Execution requests for two of the condemned men were made to the governor's office in 2010, but a judge barred the state from carrying out any executions until it switched to something other than a three-drug lethal injection method.

The state has revamped its method and now must go before Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd to ask for the suspension to be lifted. Until then, the governor can't take any action toward carrying out a death sentence.

Requests have already been made to execute Robert Karl Foley, 56, convicted of six murders in Madison and Laurel counties, and Ralph S. Baze, 57, condemned for shooting and killing a sheriff and deputy in 1992.

Kentucky is implementing lethal injection by one or two drugs, depending upon their availability. The change, which takes effect Feb. 1, brings Kentucky in line with at least seven states using the single-drug execution protocol.

Should Shepherd allow executions to go forward, the state can then begin reviewing cases and purchasing the necessary drugs. A public records request in January by The Associated Press showed that Kentucky had not yet purchased the drugs needed to carry out a lethal injection.

The revised regulations specify that doses of the drug used in the one-drug execution — 3 grams of sodium thiopental or 5 grams of pentobarbital — be repeated if the inmate has not died within 10 minutes.

In a two-drug execution, the warden may authorize continued injections of 60 milligrams of hydromorphone until the inmate dies, if the initial injection is not deadly. Kentucky previously used sodium thiopental, pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride

Public defender David Barron, who represents several death row inmates, said he plans to challenge the new method.

Kentucky has executed three men at the Kentucky State Penitentiary in Eddyville since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976, the last one in November 2008.

Source: AP, January 31, 2013