Georgia and Florida are planning the first executions since Oklahoma botched one back in May.
Georgia is set to execute Marcus Wellons Tuesday night. Florida is scheduled to execute John Ruthell Henry, a convicted triple murderer, on Wednesday night. Missouri was set to execute John Winfield tonight, but, as NBC News reports, a federal judge temporarily halted his execution saying there was evidence that state officials “intimidated a prison employee who planned to support his clemency bid.”
Georgia Public Broadcasting reports that Wellons, who was convicted of raping and murdering a 15-year-old girl, would be the first inmate put to death using a new, secret source of lethal injection drugs. GPB adds:
“Lawyers need to know where the drugs are coming from, said Jen Moreno, staff attorney for the Death Penalty Clinic at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law and consultant for Wellons’ defense team.
“‘To ensure that drugs are coming from sources that are legitimate, and that they’re manufactured in ways that ensure that the drugs are what they say they are, and they’re going to act in the manner that they need to act to ensure that the execution is carried out in a manner that comports with the constitution,’ she said.
“Wellons’ attorneys will appear before a federal court in Atlanta Monday, arguing that the secrecy amounts to a violation of their clients’ civil rights.”
Oklahoma’s botched execution of Clayton Lockett has revived a national debate on the death penalty generally but also renewed a focus on the drug shortage that is affecting the country. As we’ve explained in the past, drug companies, citing political and physical threats, have stopped supplying states with traditional execution drugs. States, therefore, have turned to novel combinations for executions and have refused to reveal the names of their suppliers out fear that doing so would jeopardize the relationship.
The AP reports because of the Lockett execution, many will be watching the upcoming executions closely. The wire service adds that nine different executions have been stayed or postponed since then.
The AP notes that Georgia uses a single drug — pentobarbital — for the killing; Florida uses a three-drug combo of midazolam hydrochloride, vecuronium bromide and potassium chloride.