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Kentucky drops 2-drug executions, reworking method

November 14, 2014

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (AP) — Kentucky is dropping its proposed use of a two-drug execution method after the prolonged deaths of inmates in two other states that used a similar means to carry out death sentences.

In a court filing Thursday, prosecutors cited “recent events in other states” as the reason for seeking to rewrite the regulations over the next six months. The move came just less than two months after a judge ordered the state to be prepared to explain how and why it chose the two-drug method and the doses proposed.

Lethal injections have undergone scrutiny in recent years as the drugs used to carry out the process have become tougher for states to get as pharmaceutical companies barred their use for executions. It wasn’t immediately clear Friday morning if Kentucky is the first state to drop the two-drug concept without having used it first.

Kentucky, which modeled its execution process on Ohio’s, proposed using compounded drugs and of using midazolam and hydromorphone.

Two states have used midazolam in a two-drug protocol: Ohio and Arizona. Both of their executions in 2014 were prolonged, accompanied by the inmates’ gasping.

Executions in Kentucky have been on hold since 2010 when Judge Phillip Shepherd took issue with how executions were handled.

Executions in Ohio have been on hold since January, when inmate Dennis McGuire gasped and snorted during a 26-minute execution that raised questions about the two-drug method used to put him to death that had never been tried. Problems with this combo were further underscored in July when it took nearly two hours and 15 doses of injection drugs before Joseph Wood died in Arizona.


Follow Associated Press reporter Brett Barrouquere on Twitter: http://twitter.com/BBarrouquereAP