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Louisiana's Single-Drug Switch

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AP reports on the case of Christopher Sepulvado:

Sepulvado was convicted of first-degree murder for the 1992 killing of [6-year-old] Wesley Mercer [his stepson] at his Mansfield [Louisiana] home.

Court records say Sepulvado repeatedly hit the young boy on the head with a screwdriver handle and then immersed him in a bathtub filled with scalding water that burned 60 percent of his body. The boy had come home from school with soiled pants.

U.S. District Judge James Brady has stayed Sepulvado's execution because of fears he might suffer pain.

No, the state is not going to beat him over the head and scald him with hot water.  They plan to give him a single overdose of barbiturate.  But the judge thinks the state has to provide details to litigate this.  The single-drug method simply does not present the danger of extreme pain that was at issue in the litigation over the three-drug method.  Litigating it should not be the "new normal."

At this time it is not clear if the state will appeal or just provide the information and set a new date.  I'm not sure how dates are set in Louisiana, so the latter course might be the better one.

4 Comments

These arrogant federal judges need to be reined in.

I have a dumb question - if Lethal Injection is apparently cruel and unusual punishment (I have no idea if this is true or not), being the brilliant non-criminal attorney I am, would plead in the alternative and use the firing squad. If I recall correctly, it was used somewhat recently in Utah and I don't think it has ever been argued that getting shot in the heart at close range causes pain.
If California can't figure out how to concoct an acceptable drug cocktail in 6 years, probably better to try something different.

The single-drug method is certainly not "cruel and unusual."

California still does have the alternative of the gas chamber, and that wouldn't be cruel either if they only used the right gas.

It's not that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation can't figure all this out. It's that it isn't sufficiently motivated, given who its boss reports to.

They used some sort of cyanide agent in the "old school" gas chamber, right? What type of gas would be less "cruel"?

I read your writ of mandate regarding the Department of Corrections lack of motivation. It made sense to me, but my career batting average with civil writs of mandate is 0, so I can't imagine you had much of a chance.

Perhaps a solution is a citizen initiative (which I generally despise) to change the execution method to something clearly "un-cruel" such as the firing squad or hanging would solve the problem.

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