Today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, "Expired drugs led to cancellation of execution by lethal injection." It's by Rhonda Cook.
One of the drugs the state was set to use last month in Warren Hill's scheduled execution had expired two weeks before he was supposed to die, records show.
The Department of Corrections tried to keep the execution on track by changing its procedures from using three drugs to only one, a barbiturate. That decision, however, became the basis for a stay issued by the Georgia Supreme Court less than two hours before Hill was to die for a 1990 murder.
Hill's execution is now on hold at least until November when the justices have said they will hear lawyers' arguments as to whether the state's Administrative Procedures Act requires 30 days of public comment before Corrections can make the change.
In an email Thursday, the Department of Corrections said: "The unavailability of pancuronium bromide was a factor in the decision to change Georgia's execution protocol but it was not the overriding concern."
DOC said there were alternatives to pancuronium bromide but the agency decided — the day before the scheduled execution — to switch to one drug instead of three after reviewing expert testimony, court decisions and the experiences of other states.
The agency's said it had been considering the change for a year, since it was forced to replace sodium thiopental with pentobarbital because of a shortage of that drug.
Documents obtained under the Georgia Open Records Act show the agency's supply of the paralytic pancuronium bromide, the second drug administered in the three-drug series, had expired on July 1. The DOC's supply of the sedative pentobarbital and potassium chloride, the final drug that stops the heart, were current.
Usually the potency of out-of-date drugs diminishes, said Randall Tackett, professor at the University of Georgia School of Pharmacy. If a condemned murderer is not completely paralyze, Tackett said, there could be a response to the injection of the potassium chloride, which can be extremely painful, even though sedated.
According to 2,237 pages the Department of Corrections provided the AJC, there were no meeting notes, calendar entries or internal communications that reflected internal discussions of changing the lethal injection protocol in the months and years before July 17.
"This further proves that there are significant problems when a system is shrouded in secrecy," said Sara Totonchi, executive director of the Southern Center for Human Rights. "If we are going to have the death penalty, then we certainly need to know all of the facts before an execution is carried out."
"Expired drugs led to delay of scheduled execution of man by lethal injection for 1990 murder," is the AP filing, via the Republic.
Records show that one of the drugs that were to be used in Warren Hill's scheduled execution in Georgia last month had expired two weeks before he was scheduled to die.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Department of Corrections tried to change its procedures from three drugs to one — a barbiturate — in an effort to keep the execution on track.
However, the Georgia Supreme Court issued a stay less than two hours before Hill was to be executed for a 1990 murder.
The Department of Corrections said in a statement Thursday that the unavailability of pancuronium bromide was a factor in the decision to change Georgia's execution protocol, but it was not an "overriding concern."
Earlier coverage of Warren Hill's case and his scheduled execution begins at the link.