Today's Houston Chronicle reports, "2 condemned killers sue for execution-drug details," by Mike Ward. The former Austin American-Statesman reporter has covered lethal injection issues for years. He recently moved to the Hearst Newspapers Capitol Bureau.
Two condemned killers, including a onetime drifter who once claimed he killed 70 people in a cross-country crime spree spanning 19 years, sued state officials on Wednesday to force them to disclose details about the execution drugs that will be used to end their lives.
In a lawsuit filed in Travis County state court, Tommy Lynn Sells, 49, and Ramiro Hernandez Llanes, 44, alleged that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice is illegally refusing to provide their attorneys with information about the powerful barbiturate pentobarbital that will be used to execute them, despite earlier court orders and attorney general opinions requiring that information be made public.
The suit comes just days after Texas prison officials announced that they had obtained an additional supply of the state's execution drug, but would not disclose anything about the suppliers, manufacturers and other details about the drugs as they have in the past.
The case comes at a time when similar suits are pending in other states, as prison officials across the country are moving to keep the source of their execution drugs confidential. In recent years, several manufacturers have stopped making the drugs or prohibited their use in executions after their names were disclosed, and suppliers have quit shipping to Texas and other states for the same reason.
"Lawsuit seeks to ID source of Texas execution drug," is Michael Graczyk's AP report, via the Austin American-Statesman.
Attorneys for two Texas inmates facing execution next month with a new batch of pentobarbital obtained by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice filed a lawsuit Wednesday demanding the prison agency disclose the identity of the new supplier.
The petition filed in state court in Austin also sought an emergency order requiring state authorities to identify when the drug was obtained and any results of tests on its potency and purity.
The attorneys represent convicted killers Tommy Lynn Sells, set to die April 3, and Ramiro Hernandez, scheduled for April 9.
The current supply of pentobarbital used for lethal injections in Texas expires April 1. Prison officials said last week they have a new supply but cited security reasons for declining to name the provider.
The state attorney general’s office previously has said the information should be public and is waiting for arguments from the agency on why the policy should be changed.
Earlier coverage of Texas lethal injection issues begins at the link.