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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…

Oklahoma: Jurors choose death penalty for Oklahoma City man convicted of rapes, murder

Oklahoma death chamber
Oklahoma death chamber
Jurors on Wednesday chose the death penalty as punishment for an Oklahoma City man convicted of raping his girlfriend and her friend before fatally beating the friend.

The Oklahoma County jury deliberated less than an hour.

Last week, the jurors found Albert Ray Johnson, 49, guilty of 1 count of 1st-degree murder, 1 count of assault and battery with intent to kill, 2 counts of forcible oral sodomy, 2 counts of 1st-degree rape, 2 counts of forcible anal sodomy, 2 counts of kidnapping and 1 count of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.

After convicting Johnson last week, the jury chose life in prison as punishment for each count except the count of murder. Jurors on Wednesday decided the punishment of death for the murder count after listening to closing arguments.

Prosecutors said Johnson forced his girlfriend to invite over a female friend so he could "rape and kill" her. Johnson was accused of threatening to kill his girlfriend and her 8-year-old daughter if she didn't comply with his request.

The former girlfriend testified during the trial and told the jury she was forced to call her friend, Rachel Rogers, 24, to her home in The Village. Prosecutors said the call to Rogers occurred about 1:30 a.m. June 13, 2014.

When Rogers arrived at the home shortly after the call, Johnson pulled her inside and put a knife to her throat, the girlfriend testified. The victim said Johnson then raped both of them at knifepoint.

After the rapes, Johnson tied up the women and beat them with metal objects, prosecutors said. Johnson fatally beat Rogers with a dumbbell, "crushing her face," prosecutors said.

Source: The Oklahoman, June 23, 2016

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