Oklahoman Set For Executution After Lethal Injection Challenge Fails

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Written By admin at Monday, August 13th, 2012

Oklahoma is set to execute Michael Hooper on Tuesday after a federal appeals court rejected his challenges of the state’s death penalty procedures.

Last month, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections said it obtained 20 doses of the sedative pentobarbital, which is used in its three-drug lethal injection cocktail. The state was down to its last dose of the drug before it acquired the additional supplies, court records in Mr. Hoopers’ case show.

Mr. Hooper, a convicted murderer, asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit to halt his execution because of concerns about the newly-obtained doses of pentobarbital, among others.

On Friday, the appeals court affirmed a district court’s ruling that rejected Mr. Hooper’s challenges. His lawyer, Jim Simmons, said he is now asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review his challenge.

“My client was not wanting a delay. He just wants [the state] to do it right,” Mr. Simmons said of the execution.

Pentobarbital and other drugs used in executions have been in short supply nationwide in light of a campaign by death-penalty opponents that has prompted some manufacturers to abandon production of the drugs for lethal injection purposes.

In the appeal, Mr. Drummond challenged Oklahoma’s lethal injection procedures on several fronts.

He questioned the state’s lethal injection protocol on grounds that no backup of the drug pentobarbital is required to be on hand in case the first dose fails to render the inmate unconscious, according to court documents.

The appeals court, rejecting the claim, noted that the district court said Mr. Hooper “failed to offer anything more than speculation that the lack of a backup dose of pentobarbital would be dangerous.”

Mr. Simmons also wrote that many states have moved to a one-drug lethal injection protocol, undermining Oklahoma’s three-drug cocktail.  Texas and Georgia are among a number of states that have moved to a single-dose protocol.

On that challenge,  the appeals court found that Mr. Hooper “failed to demonstrate that Oklahoma’s three-drug execution is unconstitutional.”

Mr. Hooper, age 39, of Canadian County, Okla., was sentenced to death for the 2003 murders of his girlfriend and her two children. Mr. Hooper shot each of them in the head twice and buried their bodies in a shallow grave in a secluded field, according to the Oklahoma Attorney General.

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