Feb
12

“How Will I Die?” – Inmate’s Appeal

By

Chris-Sepulvado

Christopher Sepulvado will live through the day tomorrow, avoiding his scheduled walk from a cell on Louisiana’s death row to Angola’s execution chamber.  A federal judge in Baton Rouge ruled last week that Sepulvado has the right to know what chemicals the state intends to use to put him to death.

Louisiana, like all capital-punishment states, is making changes in its procedures because the key drug used in lethal executions, sodium thiopental, is no longer manufactured in the U.S.  The drug is an anesthetic, and the first in a three-part chemical regime that also calls for an agent to paralyze the condemned prisoner and another drug to stop the heart.  Several states have switched to a single dose of a powerful barbituate.

Louisiana, which last put a prisoner to death with the three-drug cocktail in 2010, intends to use a single dose of pentobarbital to execute Sepulvado, but the state has not published details of the new plan.  That’s the issue that got the attention of U.S. District Court Judge James J. Brady: Sepulvado, he ruled, has a right to know how the state will kill him.

If he doesn’t know the details, the judge said, he can’t argue “cruel and unusual punishment” on appeal.  “There is no way that [Sepulvado] could adequately, meaningfully bring an Eighth Amendment challenge if he does not know how the protocol operates,” the judge said.

Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell plans to take the issue to the U.S. Fifth Circuit, saying, “We are confident we will win this case on appeal.”  Sepulvado was convicted in the murder of his six-year-old stepson in 1992.

 

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