Death row inmate gets a reprieve over execution drug’s provenance

Death Penalty

Death row inmate gets a reprieve over execution drug’s provenance

Feb 8, 2013, 06:02 pm CST

A federal judge has canceled next week’s scheduled execution of a Louisiana man because the state hasn’t provided the defense with enough information about its planned execution protocol.

Christopher Sepulvado, 69, was scheduled to be executed Wednesday for the 1992 murder of his 6-year-old stepson, Wesley Mercer, who was beaten and scalded to death for having soiled his pants at school, reports.

At a hearing Thursday before U.S. District Judge James Brady of Baton Rouge, La., lawyers for the state Department of Corrections notified the defense of their plans to execute Sepulvado using a one-drug execution protocol containing pentobarbital. But Brady said the state had provided the defense with no information about how and when the drug was purchased, what type of training has been provided to prison staff, who will carry out the execution and what type of medical supervision if any is involved.

Without such details, Brady said, Sepulvado’s lawyers cannot protect his right against cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The state will have an opportunity to execute Sepulvado, Brady said, “but it must do so in a constitutional manner.”

A lawyer for the state said after the hearing that the ruling would be appealed. But he said no effort would be made to carry out the execution next week.

Gary Clements, Sepulvado’s lawyer, said he was relieved but not really surprised by the judge’s decision because the case for delaying the execution was “pretty clear cut.”

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