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Inmate's lawyers argue drug is unconstitutional

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ATLANTA --- Lawyers seeking to halt today's execution of a Georgia prisoner told a federal judge Tuesday that a new sedative in the state's three-drug combination caused another inmate to suffer as he was put to death last month.



Prosecutors countered that executions need not be free of all pain and that the defense failed to show that Roy Blankenship -- who witnesses say grimaced and jerked -- suffered excessively before he died June 23.

"Some pain is allowed during an execution," Assistant Attorney General Sabrina Graham said at a federal court hearing. "Is it looking at your arm and grimacing, is that unnecessary pain and suffering? It is not."

Defense attorneys are seeking a temporary restraining order to stop the execution of Andrew DeYoung, who is scheduled to die today for the 1993 slayings of his parents and 15-year-old sister.

DeYoung's attorney argues that the state's use of pentobarbital in its three-drug mixture is unconstitutional and violates the ban against cruel and unusual punishment.

Amid questions surrounding the state's lethal injection procedure, a Fulton County judge has ordered that DeYoung's execution be videotaped and submitted to the court under seal. A spokeswoman for the state attorney general said the office was reviewing the order to decide how to proceed.

The state switched to pentobarbital this year after federal regulators took the state's supply of sodium thiopental amid questions about how it was obtained amid a nationwide shortage.

Dr. David Waisel, a Harvard University medical professor and anesthesiologist, testified Tuesday that pentobarbital is largely untested as a stand-alone sedative in humans. The drug is used most commonly to euthanize animals.

Waisel said he reviewed accounts from those who witnessed Blankenship's June 23 executions, including a report by The Associated Press, and said he concluded Blankenship had suffered.

"It is my opinion that during this process Mr. Blankenship exhibited needless pain and suffering," said Waisel, who previously had expressed concerns about the use of pentobarbital.

A key focus of Tuesday's hearing was the account of AP reporter Greg Bluestein, who reported Blankenship jerked his head several times during the procedure, looked at the injection sites in his arms and muttered after the pentobarbital was injected into his veins.

Death penalty critics said Blankenship's unusual movements were proof that Georgia shouldn't have used pentobarbital to sedate him before injecting pancuronium bromide to paralyze him and then potassium chloride to stop his heart. State prosecutors, meanwhile, raised questions about the timeline cited in the AP story and argued Blankenship's movements occurred before the sedative took hold.

In addition, state prosecutors argued that adequate safeguards are in place to ensure inmates do not suffer needlessly, including a consciousness check before the second and third drugs are administered.

With DeYoung's execution set for this evening, U.S. District Court Judge Steve C. Jones said he would rule soon.

DeYoung would become the second person in Georgia to be executed with pentobarbital.

Amid a national shortage of sodium thiopental, states have been turning to pentobarbital to carry out executions. It has now been used this year to put at least 18 inmates to death in eight states.

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Craig Spinks
818
Points
Craig Spinks 07/20/11 - 12:02 am
0
0
How much did Waisel get paid

How much did Waisel get paid for his "expert" testimony? Is $50K the going rate in the Northern District?

Just My Opinion
6262
Points
Just My Opinion 07/20/11 - 03:47 am
0
0
Yeah, these low-life

Yeah, these low-life attorneys don't care about the killers they're defending...it's just about the money. I just can't see how any intelligent human being could take the view of this attorney.

CABoatright
188
Points
CABoatright 07/20/11 - 06:02 am
0
0
Simple fix here: Skip the
Unpublished

Simple fix here: Skip the "sedation" & shoot drugs 2 & 3. Surely his parents & sister weren't "sedated" when he murdered them!!

Riverman1
93614
Points
Riverman1 07/20/11 - 07:15 am
0
0
I'd just hit um in the head

I'd just hit um in the head with something. But, a legal question here. How does the state legally obtain pentobarbital for injection? It can only be legally ordered by a physician, PA or nurse practitioner. So who writes the prescription to obtain the drug and how do they justify it? It kind of neglects the motto "Do no harm" to the max. Heh.

snoopdawg99
0
Points
snoopdawg99 07/20/11 - 08:03 am
0
0
Stand him in front of a wall

Stand him in front of a wall & shoot him Bullets cheaper then drugs anyhow

buddyg
0
Points
buddyg 07/20/11 - 08:41 am
0
0
Did those people suffer.he's

Did those people suffer.he's lived 14-15 years longer than he should have.

rmwhitley
5547
Points
rmwhitley 07/20/11 - 01:55 pm
0
0
How do the murdered measure
Unpublished

How do the murdered measure pain? Let's test it on an attorney, for an example.

shrimp for breakfast
5641
Points
shrimp for breakfast 07/20/11 - 03:07 pm
0
0
I have to agee with you

I have to agee with you riverman.

CorporalGripweed
0
Points
CorporalGripweed 07/21/11 - 02:27 pm
0
0
Wasn't killing his parents

Wasn't killing his parents and his sister unconstitutional? We ought to do what they do in Japan. Lock you up, set a date for the execution, but they don't tell you the date. Every morning you wonder "will this be the day" When the day comes your family gets a call to come pick up the body. End of story.

billyjones1949
1
Points
billyjones1949 07/21/11 - 09:26 pm
0
0
I would be twitching if it

I would be twitching if it were me on the table. When I had my implant done I was given iv Valium and in seconds I did not know I was in the word. What is wrong with that for the sedative?

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