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Texas Execution

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Yesterday, we noted the upcoming execution of John Battaglia in Texas, the second in that state in a week.  Battaglia was indeed executed last night.  The U.S. Supreme Court orders denying a stay and review of lower court decisions are here and here.  No dissent is noted from either order.

Callum Paton reports for Newsweek:

Without remorse or humility until the end, killer John Battaglia, who murdered his two young daughters in his Texas home in 2001, laughed and taunted his ex-wife as he was executed Thursday.

Battaglia saved his last words for his ex-wife, Mary Jean Pearle, The Dallas Morning News reported. "Well, hi, Mary Jean. I'll see y'all later. Bye," he said to Pearle, who had come to watch him die.

As he drew his last breaths, 17 years after Battaglia had killed her two children, Pearle was heard to say "I've seen enough of him" as she walked away from his motionless body, separated by a glass window.

Battaglia's demeanor was described as "jovial" as he prepared to meet his end by lethal injection at the Huntsville Unit in Texas.

The Dallas Morning News has this story by Tasha Tsiaperas with contribution from AP.

On Thursday, one woman stood outside the prison unit with a pink poster board that bore a photo of Battaglia and the words "Texas executes mentally ill."

A state judge and the state appeals court, however, described Battaglia as highly intelligent, competent and not mentally ill. They argued he was faking mental illness to avoid execution.

Testimony at a hearing showed Battaglia used the prison library to research capital case rulings on mental competence and discussed with his father the "chess game" of avoiding execution.

And then there is this:

The last-minute federal appeal filed Thursday alleged that the execution violated Battaglia's constitutional rights because Texas was using expired drugs for the lethal injection.

Court records show Battaglia's attorneys argued that William Rayford, the other killer from Dallas executed this week, tried to sit up and jerked his head after the lethal drugs were administered.

Rayford's execution was delayed for a couple of hours because of late appeals to stay his punishment.

The "expiration date" on drugs is merely the date that the manufacturer conservatively estimates it can guarantee that the drug will not have dropped below the needed potency by time alone if properly stored.  If a particular bottle of a drug is actually tested and confirmed to have the required potency and purity, "expiration date" is irrelevant.

Update:  Michael Graczyk has this report for AP:

His lethal injection was the nation's third this year, all in Texas. The punishment was delayed more than three hours until the U.S. Supreme Court rejected appeals from his lawyers to review his case. They contended the 62-year-old was delusional and mentally incompetent for execution and that a lower court improperly refused Battaglia's lawyers money to hire an expert to further examine legal claims regarding his mental competency.

*      *      *

Battaglia then closed his eyes and looked directly up. A few seconds later he opened them back up and lifted his head. "Am I still alive?" he asked.

The powerful sedative pentobarbital began to take effect. "Oh, I feel it," he said. He gasped twice and started to snore. Within the next few seconds, all movement stopped.

The time of death: 9:40 p.m. CST -- 22 minutes after the lethal dose began.

Pearle turned away from an execution-viewing window after Battaglia stopped breathing and walked to the back of the witness area.

"I've seen enough of him," she said. She returned several minutes later to watch as a physician examined Battaglia and pronounced him dead. Pearle declined to be interviewed afterward.

The single-drug execution method with a barbiturate produces a death with less pain than most of us are going to feel when we die.  It is certainly much less than the perpetrators deserve.  The federal government needs to get out of the way and allow states to import the needed drugs from Asia.

3 Comments

Kent, your final line states: "The federal government needs to get out of the way and allow states to import the needed drugs from Asia."

This is a FDA/DOJ issue, no? Can you explain why it seems not a concern, let alone a priority, for the Trump FDA/DOJ?

Texas should cease its policy of waiting for SCOTUS to rule. It is appalling that the mother had to stand around and wait for the precious Supreme Court to rule after all these years. It must have been an agonizing wait, and there is no reason for it.

I know that the counterargument to that would be that the Supreme Court would just automatically issue a stay. My response--don't help the murderer effect service of process. In each case, states should insist on actual service, and there is no requirement that the government make service of process convenient or easy, Without service, a Supreme Court stay order is a brutum fulmen.

I have no inside information on DOJ priorities.

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