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October 12, 2008

Autumnal execution news and notes

As detailed in this AP article, the pace of executions in Texas is poised to speed up over the next few months.  Here is how the piece starts:

The crowd on A-Wing A-Section at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Polunsky Unit at Livingston is about to get thinned.  A dozen condemned inmates in the so-called “death watch” cells on Texas death row are set for lethal injection over the next six weeks.

Two are scheduled for this week. Two next week. And two more the week after that. Then six more in November, adding to Texas’ standing as the nation’s most active death penalty state.  “It’s just the way of Texas,” Alvin Kelly, who on Tuesday is the first of the 12 set to die, said last week from a tiny visiting cage at the prison.   “Will crime stop? Will my death stop what’s going on in everyday society?” asked Kevin Watts, scheduled to die two days later. “They’re just killing people.”

Meanwhile, as detailed in this CNN story, the first person scheduled to be executed in Ohio since the Baze decision is asking the Supreme Court to block his execution:

An Ohio death row inmate who says he is too overweight to be executed took his plea to the Supreme Court on Friday....

The justices were expected to decide whether he should receive a stay of execution, and whether to address the larger constitutional claims over when a convicted person is medically unfit for capital punishment.

His lawyers have argued that the inmate -- at 5-foot-7 and 267 pounds -- is "morbidly obese," and has gained about 70 pounds since his incarceration at age 19. Prison food and confinement in his cell for 23 hours a day, limiting his opportunities for exercise, contributed to his weight problem, his legal team said in recent court filings.

Cooey also says regular medication he takes for migraines will weaken the effectiveness of an anesthetic used in the a three-drug cocktail administered during execution. He says his veins are weakened because of his health issues, and the lethal drugs would amount to cruel and unusual punishment.

October 12, 2008 at 08:11 PM | Permalink


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