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Death Penalty

There’s ‘Strong Evidence’ Sedative for Lethal Injection Was Illegally Imported, Nebraska Lawyer Says

Posted Apr 12, 2011 1:57 PM CDT
By Stephanie Francis Ward

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There is "strong evidence" lethal injection sedative used in Nebraska is being illegally imported from India, according to a lawyer there who handles capital cases, and using it brings brings legal and humane risks, he wrote in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

Alan Peterson, who practices in Lincoln, wrote to Holder a few weeks ago on behalf of Carey Dean Moore, a Nebraska death row inmate.

Peterson told the Omaha World Herald that documents he obtained show no evidence the Nebraska Department of Corrections was registered with the Drug Enforcement Administration to import the drug, sodium thiopental, for a lethal injection.

Alisa Finella, a U.S. Department of Justice spokeswoman, told the Omaha World Herald that officials will review the letter.

The last domestic company that manufactured the fast-acting sedative stopped production earlier this year, and it is currently in short supply. Last week the U.S. Supreme Court stayed two executions after petitioners as part of their argument stated that a a planned new execution drug, pentobarbital, is neither appropriate nor the subject of adequate protocols.

In his letter to Holder, Peterson wrote that there is “strong evidence” that Nebraska illegally imported sodium thiopental.

“Illegally imported thiopental may be adulterated, counterfeit, or otherwise ineffective in providing adequate sedation to minimize risks of unnecessary and severe pain in the course of a lethal injection execution,” Peterson said.

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