Federal hearing on death penalty enters third
By Jason Bennert, Bay City News Service
September 28, 2006
SAN JOSE (BCN) - The federal judge who will decide the
future of California's lethal injection procedure appears to be
interested in the viability of only using a massive dose of one
drug, a barbiturate, to execute condemned inmates rather than
the three-drug cocktail California has used in the past.
U.S. District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel has been questioning witnesses
throughout the four-day hearing he is holding in his San Jose
courtroom on California's lethal injection procedure. This morning
he asked Dr. Mark Heath, an anesthesiologist called as an expert
witness by the attorneys for condemned killer Michael Morales,
a hypothetical question about using only a barbiturate.
"If California were proceeding with a single drug, that
is a massive dose of barbiturate, would your concerns be alleviated?"
Fogel also appeared to indicate that he believed the experiences
and opinions of the veterinary profession about the use of sodium
thiopental, pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride in the
euthanasia of animals are relevant in the hearing, in contrast
to the position of the attorneys representing the State of California.
Those three drugs have been the ones used in California's previous
lethal injection executions and, in a different formula, are what
the state is proposing to use in future executions.
After Fogel finished questioning Heath, the attorneys for Morales
rested and the state's attorneys began presenting their case.
The hearing is scheduled to conclude on Friday.
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