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States to try new ways of executing prisoners. Their latest idea? Opioids.

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The synthetic painkiller fentanyl has been the driving force behind the nation’s opioid epidemic, killing tens of thousands of Americans last year in overdoses. Now two states want to use the drug’s powerful properties for a new purpose: to execute prisoners on death row.
As Nevada and Nebraska push for the country’s first fentanyl-assisted executions, doctors and death penalty opponents are fighting those plans. They have warned that such an untested use of fentanyl could lead to painful, botched executions, comparing the use of it and other new drugs proposed for lethal injection to human experimentation.
States are increasingly pressed for ways to carry out the death penalty because of problems obtaining the drugs they long have used, primarily because pharmaceutical companies are refusing to supply their drugs for executions.
The situation has led states such as Florida, Ohio and Oklahoma to turn to novel drug combinations for executions. Mississippi legalized nitrogen gas this s…

Agreement on DNA testing in Skinner case, but "key" evidence missing

Henry 'Hank' Skinner
DNA testing of evidence in the Henry Skinner triple murder case hit yet another snag this week as prosecutors admitted that a blood-stained windbreaker – termed "perhaps the key piece of evidence" by the killer's lawyer – cannot be found.

In a motion laying out terms of a joint agreement to begin testing filed late Tuesday, the state and Skinner attorney Rob Owen identify 40 items to be submitted for testing. Among them are clippings from a victim's fingernails, vaginal swabs, and knives found at the scene of the 1993 New Year's Eve Pampa murder.

Prosecutors in Tuesday's filing concede that the windbreaker, collected from the scene by the Pampa Police Department, has not been found.

"According to the state, every other single piece of evidence in this case has been preserved," Owen said in an email. To date, the state has offered no explanation for its failure to safeguard evidence in this case."

Owen said the jacket, which appears to be stained with perspiration and blood, may have been worn by the assailant. Owen said that, since the trial, a witness has identified the jacket as one worn by Busby's uncle.

That man, now dead, reportedly was seen stalking [the female victim] at a party shortly before her murder.

Skinner has endeavored for more than a decade to obtain DNA testing of seemingly important evidence gathered at the crime scene.


Source: Houston Chronicle, June 13, 2012

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