Covering Louisiana

Feb 6, 2013 1:03 PM by AP

Louisiana says 1 drug to be used in execution

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Louisiana is replacing a three-chemical lethal injection formula with a single dose of one drug for the execution planned next week of a DeSoto Parish man, according to a lawyer for the state corrections department.

Wade Shows, attorney for the agency, said the lethal injection of Christopher Sepulvado will involve pentobarbital, which is used to kill badly-injured and sick animals.

The Advocate reports the information was provided Tuesday during a hearing in Baton Rouge federal court.

Sepulvado is scheduled for execution on Feb. 13 for the 1992 beating and scalding death of his 6-year-old stepson, Wesley Mercer.

Pentobarbital was not one of the three chemicals used in Louisiana's last execution in 2010. But supplies of one of the three drugs - sodium thiopental - used in that lethal injection formula have dried up in the United States.

Lawyers for Sepulvado are seeking to have the execution stalled, saying they don't have enough information about whether the drug that will be used can kill an inmate painlessly. A hearing on the delay request is set for Friday.

"We need to know if they have pentobarbital. If they have it, where did they get it? Did they get it from China? From India?" said Gary Clements, director of the Capital Post-Conviction Project of Louisiana and attorney for Sepulvado.

Wade Shows, lawyer for the Department of Corrections, said several other states use pentobarbital in single-chemical lethal injections. He said courts in those states have ruled that pentobarbital does not cause a "cruel and unusual" death.

Texas has executed nine death row inmates with single doses of pentobarbital since July, said Jason Clark, public information officer for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

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