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December 16, 2010

Oklahoma poised to complete last execution of 2010 with new drug in three-drug protocol

As reported in this new piece on CNN, it appears that Oklahoma is about to close out the year in execution by ringing in a new drug for its lethal injection protocol.  Here are the basics:

An Oklahoma death row inmate will receive a drug commonly used to euthanize animals Thursday because of a nationwide shortage of sodium thiopental, the drug usually used as the sedative in its three-drug execution cocktail.

John David Duty's execution will be the last in the United States in 2010 and is believed to be the first in the country to use pentobarbital in a lethal injection.  Duty was convicted and sentenced to die for strangling his 22-year-old cellmate, Curtis Wise, with shoe laces while serving three life sentences for rape, robbery and shooting with intent to kill from a 1978 conviction....

Sodium thiopental is a rapid-onset, short-acting barbiturate that causes unconsciousness. Duty's attorneys argued that pentobarbital was risky and unsafe.  But an Oklahoma judge disagreed and last month approved its use in place of sodium thiopental....

Duty's execution is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, Oklahoma.  For his last meal, Duty has requested a double cheeseburger with mayonnaise, a foot-long cheese Coney dog with mustard and extra onions, cherry limeade and a banana shake from Sonic.

I excerpted the details concerning this defendant's last meal because I always find it interesting when a the request includes a particular item from a particular restaurant.  And I have always wondered if officials place cost constraints on such requests, or if a condemned man might be able to order for his last meal a serving of every item from the menu of the most expensive restaurant in the state.

UPDATE:  As detailed in this Reuters piece, the Oklahoma execution using pentobarbital went off without a hitch.  In addition, as this AP article notes, this "sedative Oklahoma used to execute an inmate that is commonly used to euthanize animals could become more popular ... because of a nationwide shortage of a key ingredient in several states' lethal injection formulas."

December 16, 2010 at 06:48 PM | Permalink


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Just because a condemned inmate requests something for a last meal does not mean he will receive it. It's dependent on what is available in the prison kitchen at the time. I'm not sure if they do any extra shopping in advance and I'm definitely not sure what the protocol is for restaurant requests is, but I would not be shocked if the Sonic purchase was an out-of-pocket expense for someone. No way would a prisoner be allowed to do something as ridiculous as order the omokase at Kihachi or any other expensive place.

Posted by: mmk | Dec 16, 2010 8:57:06 PM

Good example and argument to retain the death penalty, here.

Had there been no death penalty, the prisoner would have absolute legal immunity for the murder of his cellmate, and all other crimes following it. There are several times more such murders of staff, prisoners, and visitors every year, than there are executions, thanks to the criminal lover Supreme Court. These biased judges care only about the murderer and the lawyer fees he generates. They care nothing about the murder victim, who generates no lawyer fees. Only public outrage prevents them from abolishing the death penalty. I make no exception for Roberts nor for Alito. The Democrats on the Court are totally brazen about their pro-murderer bias.

Ironic. Criminal lover veterinarians argued in a SC amicus brief that the current death penalty technique was not as reliable or painless as animal euthanasia. Now, we are doing animal euthanasia.


Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 17, 2010 7:00:48 AM

SC --

"Good example and argument to retain the death penalty, here.

"Had there been no death penalty, the prisoner would have absolute legal immunity for the murder of his cellmate, and all other crimes following it."

Nailed it.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 17, 2010 10:42:20 AM

in cases like this, dp should be mandatory

Posted by: federalist | Dec 17, 2010 11:34:11 AM

Actually, Mississippi just scheduled an execution for December 29th. That makes it the last one for 2010.

Posted by: Roy T. | Dec 17, 2010 1:36:45 PM

It is curious how some states have such an easy time carrying out executions and some are stuck in the courtroom for years.

Posted by: DaveP | Dec 18, 2010 9:31:28 AM

"in cases like this, dp should be mandatory"

The Supreme Court actually did reserve the question when it otherwise banned mandatory death sentences, but it eventually decided it the wrong way in Sumner v. Shuman, 483 U.S. 66 (1987).

Note that elsewhere on the blog is a post about brutal methods in supermax prisons. A realistic threat of a swiftly executed death penalty would make the worst of the worst more manageable and reduce the need for such methods.

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | Dec 18, 2010 12:38:39 PM

Why not just hit them over the head with a baseball bat. That would be quicker and less expensive.

Posted by: Sarah | Jul 8, 2011 10:41:03 AM

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