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Officials Unlikely to Change Lethal Injection Protocol to Overcome Drug Shortage

The nationwide shortage of a drug commonly used in lethal injection executions has many states looking for alternatives, but Kentucky is not likely to change its formula for executions anytime soon.

Sodium thiopental has been in short supply for months. Kentucky purchased several doses earlier this year, but public defender David Barron has sought to have it declared unusable because it may have been manufactured and sold illegally.

“There’s currently no FDA-approved manufacturer of the drug in the United States. There’s also no reason or need for them to continue to use that drug in lethal injections. As we’ve seen recently, numerous other states have changed to a different chemical,” says Barron.

Several states have begun using the substitute drug pentobarbital in executions. A spokesperson for the Justice Cabinet says Kentucky officials are not considering a similar switch at this time. Even if they were, Barron says it would take at least four to six months to make such a change.

“They would have to go through the Administrative Procedure Act process again, which would require them to provide notice and the opportunity for the public to provide comment on the change in the drugs,” he says.

Any change to protocol may be moot in Kentucky, however, as an injunction is currently blocking all executions.

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Wilson Execution On Hold

There was no execution in Kentucky Thursday night, as the legal case against Death Row inmate Gregory Wilson remains on appeal.

Last week, Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd issued a stay, preventing the execution of Gregory Wilson.

Attorney General Jack Conway immediately appealed to the Kentucky Supreme Court, but the court can’t rule until all parties have responded.

Wilson’s lawyers have until September 20th to respond and so far, there has been no response.

Justice Secretary Michael Brown says there can be no execution until further orders of the court, so Wilson’s execution is on hold.

Gov. Beshear has ordered Wilson be put to death by lethal injection for the 1987 abduction, rape, robbery and murder of Newport restaurant manager Deborah Pooley.

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No Action Yet On AG Execution Stay Appeal

No word yet from the Kentucky Supreme Court on a request to lift a stay of execution for Death Row inmate Gregory Wilson.  Attorney General Jack Conway is appealing the stay, issued by Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd.  Gov. Steve Beshear says the state is just waiting to see what happens in the courts. 

“We’ve scheduled the execution for the 16th of this month.  And I believe that case is going to be up at the Kentucky Supreme Court, and it just depends upon whatever the courts tell us,” he said.

Wilson was convicted of the 1987 abduction, rape, robbery and murder of Newport restaurant manager Deborah Pooley.  Defense attorneys say Wilson has an I-Q of 62 and his trial attorneys were incompetent.  But prosecutors argue Wilson was found competent for trial and the evidence against him is overwhelming.

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Conway Requests Three Execution Dates for Death Row Inmates

From Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway is asking Gov. Steve Beshear to set execution dates for three death row inmates.

Death row inmate Ralph Baze is awaiting execution for the January 1992 murders of

Powell County Sheriff Steve Bennett and Deputy Arthur Briscoe.

Robert Foley is awaiting execution for the September 1993 murders of Laurel County brothers Rodney and Lynn Vaughn.

And Greg Wilson is awaiting execution for the May 1987 kidnapping, rape and murder of Deborah Pooley of Kenton County.

Attorney General Jack Conway says each has exhausted their “matter of right” appeals in state and federal court and wants Gov. Steve Beshear to set their execution dates.

The governor’s office has Conway’s request and each case under review.

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Beshear Won't Halt Execution

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear says he won’t take action to halt Friday’s scheduled execution of Death Row inmate Marco Allen Chapman.

Beshear told reporters in Louisville Monday that he’s given the matter “a lot of prayerful thought” and carefully reviewed the facts of the case and decided there’s no reason to intervene.

“I still can find no extenuating circumstances that would cause me to not go ahead and have the state carry out the verdict of the court, and the judgement of the court and the sentence of the court, and so the state is going to do that,” Beshear said.

Chapman is scheduled to die by lethal injection for the murders of two children in northern Kentucky four years ago. He has said he wants to waive his remaining appeals and proceed with his punishment.

Beshear says he believes capital punishment is appropriate for heinous crimes and this is a crime of that nature.