EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Breaking News

World/National News

April 3, 2014

Texas executions halted over drug supply

HOUSTON (AP) — A federal judge yesterday halted two executions in Texas, declaring that the state’s prison system must disclose to defense attorneys more information about the supplier of a new batch of lethal-injection drugs.

U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore issued a temporary injunction halting the executions of Tommy Lynn Sells, a convicted serial killer who was set to die Thursday, and Ramiro Hernandez-Llanas, another inmate scheduled to be put to death next week.

Texas officials have insisted the identity of the drug supplier must be kept secret to protect the company from threats of violence and that the stock of the sedative pentobarbital falls within the acceptable ranges of potency.

Defense attorneys say they must have the name of the supplier so they can verify the quality of the drug and spare condemned inmates from unconstitutional pain and suffering.

Gilmore ordered the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to provide defense attorneys with details about the supplier and how the drug was tested.

Lawyers for the state planned to appeal. Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected similar arguments about execution secrecy in a Missouri case, and the condemned prisoner was put to death.

Gilmore’s ruling “honors the importance of transparency in the execution process,” said Maurie Levin, an attorney for the inmates. “And the order makes it clear this last-minute litigation and stays of execution would not be necessary if (the prison agency) had not ignored the rule of law and tried to shield this information from the public and the light of day.”

Texas prisons spokesman Robert Hurst said the agency had no comment because the matter was still in court.

Since obtaining a new supply of pentobarbital two weeks ago, the Department of Criminal Justice had cited unspecified security concerns in refusing to disclose the source and other details about the drug.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News
World/National News

Latest U.S. News
Raw: NH Man Held on $1M in Teen's Kidnapping New Sanctions on Key Sectors of Russian Economy Senate Confirms McDonald As VA Secretary Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Fish Oil Plant Blast Kills One Two Huge Fires Burning in Northern California Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Suspect Dead, Marshals and Cop Wounded in NYC Judge OKs Record-setting $2B Sale of Clipper Arts, Humanities Awards Handed Out at WH Former Va. Governor's Corruption Trial Begins Trial Begins Over OKC Bombing Video $15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue
Latest World News
Raw: Aftermath, Artillery Shells Hit Donetsk Muslims Celebrate Eid El-Fitr Around the World Gaza Official: at Least 100 Killed Tuesday Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre Raw: Earthquake Rocks Mexico's Gulf Coast Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Today in History for July 29th Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Airstrike Shatters Fragile Calm in Gaza UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Today in History for July 28th Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Violent Clashes Between Libyan Militias Today in History for July 27th Thousands at Peace Rally in Tel Aviv
Photos of the Week