Morales execution halted
State of California unable to meet Federal Court
Religious leaders and protestors join a small rally outside San
to voice opposition to the death penalty. Moments before it was
Morales' execution had been halted.
By Pat Murphy and Luke
February 21, 2006, 7:00 p.m.
The execution of Michael Morales did not occur tonight due to
a Federal Court order the State of California certified it could
Morales, 46, was originally scheduled to be executed by a three-drug
Convicted murderer Morales was scheduled to die at 12:01 a.m.
today, but the time was pushed back to 7:30 p.m. due to anesthesiologists'
refusal to participate.
Throughout today the State sought permission to administer one
five-gram injection of sodium pentathol rather than the usual
three-injection series which begins with anaesthesia.
Federal Judge Jeremy Fogel granted
the request this afternoon but ordered the injection be administered
by medical professionals.
"Accordingly, while defendants may proceed with the execution
this evening using only sodium thiopental, they may do so only
if the sodium thiopental is injected in the execution chamber
directly into the intravenous cannula by a person or persons licensed
by the State of California to inject medications intravenously.
The dosage used shall be at least five grams of sodium thiopental
to be followed by a 20 cc saline flush as provided in Protocol
No. 770,'' Fogel wrote in a ruling issued this afternoon.
That requirement apparently spared Morales his life tonight.
Shortly before 6:30 p.m. the California Attorney General's Office
the State could not assure medical professionals would administer
Crittendon said San Quentin Warden Steven Ornoski made the decision
to indefinitely postpone the execution at about 5:45 p.m.
"After lengthy discussions, the decision has been made that
the state cannot proceed with the execution under the conditions
set by the district court,'' Ornoski's statement read.
Crittendon said prison officials expect that an evidentiary hearing
will take place May 2 or 3 on the constitutionality of the state's
lethal injection process.
The announcement halted the 7:30 p.m. scheduled execution now
thrown into indefinite delay.
Defense attorneys are expected to appeal to Federal Courts on
the basis of constitutionally prohibited "cruel and unusual"
Morales, of Stockton, was convicted in 1983 of raping and murdering
17-year-old Lodi resident Winchell in 1981.
Bay City News Service contributed to this report.