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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…

Judge delays Dylann Roof's death penalty trial until January 2017

Dylann Roof
Dylann Roof
Defense lawyers requested postponement to complete psychiatric testing of man who is charged with killing nine black parishioners at a Charleston church

A South Carolina judge on Wednesday delayed until next year the state death penalty trial of Dylann Roof who is charged with killing nine black parishioners at a Charleston church in June of 2015.

Circuit judge JC Nicholson granted a request by Roof’s defense lawyers who provided documents saying a doctor needed two to six more months to complete psychiatric testing of Roof. No other details were mentioned at the hearing and Nicholson sealed the release of any information about Roof’s medical records.

Nicholson moved the trial to 17 January, with jury screening to begin in early December. The trial had been scheduled to start on 11 July – a date Nicholson had set almost a year earlier.

Nicholson warned the defense that he will not grant another postponement and at one point during the 30-minute hearing wondered whether the request was simply a means to delay the trial.

“I can assure you this is not a delaying tactic,” responded defense attorney William McGuire.

When the judge took up the request for the delay, the defense said it would simply rely on the motion it filed last week seeking a postponement.

That motion said that to begin selecting a jury for a trial this summer “while substantial investigation and preparation remains to be done in a case that is neither factually nor legally straightforward would deny the defendant the basic tools for an adequate defense.”

Nicholson said he wanted a monthly report from the doctor updating the court on the progress of the evaluation. Roof was not in the courtroom, although a number of family members of the shooting victims were.


Source: The Guardian, AP, April 13, 2016

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