U.S. Supreme Court stays Oklahoma's scheduled executions
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Wednesday to delay the executions of three Oklahoma inmates using a contested drug while the high court reviews their legal case.
The execution of Richard Glossip was scheduled for Thursday. John Marion Grant’s execution was set for Feb. 19 and Benjamin Robert Cole’s for March 5.
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt asked the court for the execution stays on Monday pending the high court’s decision in the case or the state’s success in obtaining one of two other drugs previously used for lethal injections.
The Supreme Court agreed Friday to review whether the use of midazolam as part of the three-drug cocktail could violate the inmates’ constitutional protection against cruel and unusual punishment.
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The drug is the first injected and is meant to act as a sedative. The next two drugs are meant to paralyze and then stop the heart of the inmate.
Dale Baich, a Colorado public defender who is part of the legal team for the Oklahoma inmates, said Wednesday, “We welcome today's ruling staying executions in Oklahoma until the Court can address serious questions about the state's risky lethal injection protocol.
“Last year, Oklahoma was responsible for the bungled execution of Clayton Lockett, which relied on an experimental lethal injection protocol and took more than forty minutes to cause death. Midazolam is an inappropriate drug to use in executions.
“The scientific evidence tells us that even the proper administration of midazolam can result in an inhumane execution. We look forward to exploring these questions with the Court."