State attorneys seek authority for Morales execution
using one drug
By Julia Cheever, Bay City News Service
February 21, 2006, 11:42 a.m.
SAN JOSE (BCN) - Lawyers for the state of California went
back to a federal judge in San Jose this morning to seek authority
for corrections officials to carry out an execution tonight using
only one drug.
The action followed the postponement
early this morning of the execution of convicted murderer and
rapist Michael Morales, who was originally scheduled to be put
to death shortly after midnight.
The execution was delayed after two anesthesiologists said they
could not participate in the procedure because of ethical concerns.
The execution is now scheduled to take place at San Quentin State
Prison at 7:30 p.m. with the use of 5 grams of the barbituate
sodium pentothal instead of the usual sequence of three lethal
The state estimates it could take up to 45 minutes for the pentothal
alone to cause death.
U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel, in response to a lawsuit filed
by Morales, last week gave state officials two options for carrying
out the execution in ways aimed at ensuring the inmate does not
suffer extreme pain.
One option was to have an anesthesiologist make sure the inmate
was unconscious and the second option was to use only sodium pentothal.
State attorneys told the judge in a motion filed this morning
that officials want the authority to go ahead with the second
option. The attorneys wrote, "There is agreement among the
experts that this dose will render Morales unconscious and is
The attorneys said the thiopental will act as a powerful anesthetic
and will not cause pain.
Nathan Barankin, a spokesman for state Attorney General Bill
Lockyer, said that if the judge grants the motion, he expects
that Morales' legal team may appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court
Morales, 46, was sentenced to death for the 1981 murder of a
17-year-old Lodi girl.
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