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January 19, 2017

Using execution protocol with midazolam, Virginia completes second execution of 2017

As reported in this Reuters piece headlined "Virginia inmate executed despite arguments against drug 'cocktail'," Virginia carried out an execution last night that was notable in part because of the type of lethal injection drugs acquired and utilized.  Here are the details:

Ricky Gray, 39, died by lethal injection at 9:42 p.m. at the Greensville Correctional Center, Virginia Department of Corrections spokeswoman Lisa Kinney said in an emailed statement.

Gray's lawyers filed an emergency petition with the Supreme Court on Tuesday, saying that the three-drug combination could cause Gray unnecessary suffering and thereby violate constitutional guarantees against cruel and unusual punishment.  Kinney told reporters after the execution there did not appear to be any complications with the injection.

According to Gray's stay request, the execution marks the first time a U.S. state has used two of the drugs — midazolam and potassium chloride — provided by a compounding pharmacy. Gray's lawyers argue that compounding pharmacies typically follow an informal recipe attempting to approximate the patented process approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration....  Gray's attorneys say that midazolam has already failed to render prisoners unconscious during executions in Alabama, Arizona, Ohio and Oklahoma.

Pharmaceutical manufacturers have stopped making some drugs available for use in executions, and Virginia state law allows the vendor's identity to remain secret. Arizona last month reached a settlement with lawyers for death row inmates that would bar midazolam from use in executions.

Gray was sentenced to die for the 2006 slayings of sisters Ruby Harvey, 4, and Stella Harvey, 9, in Richmond. He also killed their parents, Bryan Harvey, 49, and Kathryn Harvey, 39. His accomplice, Ray Dandridge, was sentenced to life. The pair also killed Ashley Baskerville, 21, who had been a lookout when Gray killed the Harveys as well as her mother, Mary Tucker, 47, and stepfather Percyell Tucker, 55.

Gray has said he is willing to die by firing squad, which is not an option for executions in Virginia. Gray's execution marks the second in the United States this year.

I believe the execution protocol used in Virginia in this instance is similar to the protocol that Ohio wants to use to get back into the execution game next month, and thus I suspect Ohio correction officials are hoping this execution sets a precedent allowing Ohio to move forward. Ohio, notably, has had only one execution over the last three years because of problems acquiring lethal injection drugs. But if they get these problems worked out, there is every reason to suspect the state may get back into the habit of completing five or more executions every year because it has dozens of death row inmates with "serious" execution dates.

January 19, 2017 at 11:09 AM | Permalink


Horrible crime; no innocence argument---why did this take 11 years?

Posted by: federalist | Jan 19, 2017 1:23:34 PM


And don't be concerned that none of your review committee's recommendations to safeguard the dp process in Ohio have been implemented.

Posted by: anon | Jan 19, 2017 5:47:12 PM

The Supreme Court pronouncements on methods of execution have no external validation. They are not even based on subjective feelings or false pieties, but on perfectly tuned rent seeking, a type of bad faith. The States should ignore them, and use any method they please. If federal agents seek to interfere, taser them, and expel them from the State.

The standard of cruelty should be the reasonable death of the ordinary person, not a perfect death. The lawyer infested Supreme Court is nitpicking and privileging culpable, dangerous people. They do for the sake of generating a huge death penalty appellate business, worth $billions. They ended the death penalty once, saw the result on the lawyer profession. They quickly re-instituted the nitpicking and endless appeal version of the death penalty. They will not end it, and cause immediate and total unemployment of the death penalty appellate bar.

The death of average and innocent people is usually painful and prolonged. Murderers should not expect a quieter death than 90% of all people.

Posted by: David Behar | Jan 20, 2017 9:00:36 AM

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