[Deathpenalty]death penalty news --- USA; CONN.
j_sommer at gmx.net
Thu Apr 14 16:26:25 CDT 2005
death penalty news
April 14, 2005
Lethal injection execution 'cruel' - U.S. researchers
American researchers have called for an halt to lethal injection, the most
common method of capital punishment in the United States, because it is not
always a humane and painless way to die.
Some executed prisoners may have suffered unnecessarily because they had
not been sedated properly, they said.
The current way inmates are given lethal injections does not even meet
veterinary standards for putting down animals, they added.
The research was carried out by Leonidas Koniaris of the University of
Miami Miller School of Medicine, and colleagues.
"Failures in protocol design, implementation, monitoring and review might
have led to unnecessary suffering of at least some of those executed,"
Koniaris said in a study published in The Lancet medical journal.
"Therefore, to prevent unnecessary cruelty and suffering, cessation and
public review of lethal injections is warranted." Anesthesia is given
during a lethal injection to minimize suffering. Without it the prisoner
would suffocate and experience horrible pain, according to Koniaris.
But in their analysis of protocols followed during lethal injections in
Texas and Virginia, where 45 percent of executions in the United States are
conducted, they found there was no monitoring of the anesthesia.
Emergency medical technicians who administered the drugs had no training in
anesthesia and there were no reviews after the executions.
When the researchers examined data from autopsies done following 49
executions in Arizona, Georgia and North and South Carolina, they found
concentrations of the drug in the blood in 43 cases were lower than that
needed for surgery.
Twenty-one prisoners had drug levels that were consistent with awareness.
"We suggest that it is possible that some of these inmates were fully aware
during their executions," said Koniaris.
An editorial in the journal said if the inmates were awake it would have
been a cruel way to die because they would have been unable to move or
breathe while potassium burned through their veins.
"Capital punishment is not only an atrocity, but also a stain on the record
of the world's most powerful democracy," it said.
Since 1976, lethal injection had been used in 788 of the 956 executions in
the United States, according to The Lancet.
2nd death row inmate opts for execution
A second inmate on Connecticut's death row has announced his desire to
forgo further appeals and face execution, possibly setting the stage for
another flurry of court action like the one surrounding serial killer
Sedrick Cobb, sentenced to death for kidnapping, raping and killing a
23-year-old woman in 1989, said he wants to drop his appeals in a letter to
Superior Court Judge Stanley T. Fuger Jr., the Hartford Courant reported in
today's editions. The court received the letter on April 4. Fuger presided
over a lengthy hearing last year on Cobb's claim that he was not adequately
represented by his lawyers during his trial. "I do this without stress,
mental duress, it's just the right time," Cobb wrote to the judge. "I
request a date in your court to make this official, so that you can ask of
me any questions or concerns that you have."
Ross, on death row for killing four young women in eastern Connecticut in
the early 1980s, faces lethal injection on May 11. He would be the first
person executed in New England in 45 years if the death sentence is carried
out as planned.
Ross' case is now tied up in a hearing in New London Superior Court to
determine if he is competent in deciding to forgo his remaining appeals.
Ross decided to drop his appeals last year and his execution was set for
Jan. 26, but the competency issue has delayed the date several times. The
hearing was to resume today.
In his letter to Fuger, Cobb also said that he is no longer represented by
Stamford attorney David Golub, who handled his complex habeas corpus
petition and argued unsuccessfully that Public Defender Gerard Smyth
provided Cobb with substandard legal representation during his trial.
Golub said Wednesday that Cobb's case is very different from Ross' case.
"Sedrick Cobb is not Michael Ross," Golub said. "He has a very strong
appeal and the appeal raises very important issues not only for Mr. Cobb,
but for the administration of the death penalty in general."
Golub, who still is officially Cobb's lawyer, said he plans to meet with
Cobb as soon as he can to discuss the matter.
It's not the first time Cobb has asked to volunteer for execution. In the
summer of 2003, he startled the criminal justice system by writing a note
to Fuger saying he wanted to withdraw his habeas petition and have an
execution date set.
At a hearing July 9 of that year, Fuger urged him to reconsider, saying the
result would be "catastrophic." Cobb later reneged.
Cobb was convicted of kidnapping Julia Ashe in 1989 while she was Christmas
shopping at a Waterbury department store. He flattened her tire, then
offered his help to change it when she returned from the store. After
changing the tire, he asked her for a ride to his own car. Once in her
vehicle, he overpowered her and forced her to drive to a remote location,
taped her mouth, wrists and ankles and raped her. He then threw her into an
icy culvert, and watched as she struggled to survive. Her body was
discovered two weeks later, on Christmas Day. Fuger no longer has
jurisdiction over Cobb's case. His November ruling against Cobb's habeas
petition is on appeal to the state Supreme Court.
(source: AP / Connecticut Post)
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