Morales asks State Court to stay execution
By Julia Cheever, Bay City News Service
February 21, 2006, 6:30 p.m.
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - Lawyers for a murderer scheduled
to be put to death tonight asked the California Supreme Court
this afternoon to halt the execution on the ground that the state's
plan to use a second procedure is unconstitutional double jeopardy.
Michael Morales, 46, was originally scheduled to be executed
by a three-drug lethal injection procedure at San Quentin State
Prison shortly after midnight this morning, but corrections officials
postponed the execution after two anesthesiologists declined to
participate because of ethical concerns.
The execution was then rescheduled for 7:30 p.m. tonight. Corrections
officials won permission from a federal judge in San Jose this
afternoon to proceed using only one drug, the barbiturate sodium
But Morales' lawyers claim in a habeas corpus petition filed
with the state high court in San Francisco that the second execution
attempt would be a "psychologically torturous, inhuman and
barbaric plan in violation of Mr. Morales' federal and state constitutional
rights to due process and protection against being placed twice
The petition asks for an immediate stay of execution and a future
evidentiary hearing on Morales' challenge to the execution procedure.
The petition alleges, "Mr. Morales has been subjected to
the harrowing experience of being told he would be killed at a
certain hour, prepared in excruciating detail for his death, left
in unexplained and excruciating suspense for three hours past
the time he was informed the execution ritual would begin and
then ultimately told the state intended to repeat the ordeal beginning
at 7:30 tonight."
The defense attorneys argue in the petition that scheduling the
new procedure within 17 hours of the attempt to use the original
procedure amounts to "unconstitutionally impermissible punishment
twice for the same offense."
Morales, of Stockton, was sentenced to death for murdering 17
year-old Terri Winchell of Lodi in 1981 by attempting to strangle
her, beating and stabbing her. He was also convicted of raping
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