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Last updated 11:48PM ET
March 5, 2021
KY Inmate File Another Suit Against Lethal Injection Process
(APR - Alabama Public Radio ) - A Kentucky death-row prisoner claims that giving a condemned inmate a sedative on the day of execution interferes with the drug cocktail used in lethal injections.

The lawsuit by Gregory L. Wilson, 51, is a new challenge to Kentucky's execution method after the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments from two other death row inmates who claim it amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.

The high court has allowed just one execution since agreeing to hear arguments in January in a case that could affect how executions are carried out in 36 states, including Alabama.

Wilson's new lawsuit challenges the method rather the constitutionality of Kentucky's execution procedure. Sedatives interfere with the effectiveness of sodium thiopental, a fast-acting barbiturate used during execution that renders an inmate unconscious, Wilson's attorneys claim in the challenge filed Wednesday in U.S. District court in Frankfort.

The other two drugs used are pancuronium bromide, which causes paralysis, and potassium chloride, which causes cardiac arrest.

Wilson's attorneys said the state gives a condemned inmate a Valium as a sedative even if the inmate refuses. An offer of Valium or another anti-anxiety drug are available in at least 19 of the country's 38 death penalty states.

Wilson also claims that inmates cannot make an intelligent choice between lethal injection and electrocution because the state does not provide enough information about its protocol for each method. In Kentucky, inmates who were sentenced to death before 1998 can choose lethal injection or electrocution.

Wilson also wants U.S. District Judge Karen Caldwell to force the state to show inmates its now-secret protocols for electrocution and lethal injection.

In previous cases, the state has denied that lethal injection causes pain and that its protocol is unconstitutional. State offices were closed Friday and e-mail messages left at the Kentucky Justice Cabinet were not immediately returned.

Wilson was condemned to death on Oct. 31, 1988, for his part in the kidnapping and murder of Deborah Pooley a year earlier. Calls to his attorneys were not immediately returned Friday.

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