Execution delayed by expired lethal drugs

The Georgia Supreme Court stayed the execution of convicted murderer Warren Hill until it can be decided if procedural changes in the execution process must be reviewed before implementation.

Normally three drugs would be used in the lethal injection process in Georgia, but the supply of the second drug to be injected, pancuronium bromide, expired two weeks before the scheduled execution according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution story.

The Department of Corrections tried to keep the execution on track by changing its procedures from using three drugs to only one, a barbiturate. That decision, however, became the basis for a stay issued by the Georgia Supreme Court less than two hours before Hill was to die for a 1990 murder.

Hill’s execution is now on hold at least until November when the justices have said they will hear lawyers’ arguments as to whether the state’s Administrative Procedures Act requires 30 days of public comment before Corrections can make the change.

The 52-year old Hill was sentenced to death for killing fellow Lee Correctional Institution inmate John Handspike. Hill, who has an IQ of 70, beat his cellmate to death with a nail-studded board. Hill’s low IQ had been the source of past complaints about his scheduled execution.

The day before the scheduled execution, the Georgia Department of Corrections decided to continue with the execution using a single drug, pentobarbital. Seven other states use a single drug for lethal injection.

Pancuronium bromide is a muscle relaxant and is recommended for use in euthanasia in some countries. Ironically, Amnesty International objects to the use of pancuronium bromide because it provides no analgesic or hypnotic properties and may disguise the pain of the condemned if the painkilling drug is ineffective.

The execution of convicted murderers continues to be a messy process for many reasons. It may be time to consider the guillotine: also messy, but relatively painless.


  1. CobbGOPer says:

    Or we can just remove the government’s power to kill its own citizens, regardless of how valid the reason may seem.

    It’s not that I don’t think murderers deserve justice, but I have trouble with the concept of the government deciding whether I (or anybody else) get to live or die, again regardless of the reason.

    You pro-lifers should be behind this logic.

  2. saltycracker says:

    Paying for a lifetime of upkeep in a prison may be cheaper than a career for an attorney or two and cause less of a nuisance.

    • CobbGOPer says:

      Most of the studies I’ve seen have showed it’s cheaper to give them life than to execute them, for exactly that reason: lawyers make everything more expensive, and almost everyone sentenced to death exhausts every appeal process they can to delay the deed. They tend to be less litigious without the threat of imminent death.

      • Charlie says:

        But that doesn’t take into account the number of people who plea to life to escape a death penalty trial. I’ve written about a personal experience with that. That’s where the deterrent is. At sentencing, not before the crime is committed.

        Because the death penalty exists, there are more guilty pleas to life in prison. Without it, there would be a lot more trials, because there would be no risk in pleading not guilty.

        And as a result, and with many juries facing the “CSI effect/OJ syndrome” a lot more of these guys would be found not guilty and be back out on the street.

        • saltycracker says:

          TV made him do the crime, TV will set him free..
          and Law & Order has a fresh script πŸ™‚

  3. Blog Goliard says:

    Either the firing squad or guillotine would seem a lot less creepy to me. With lethal injection, it’s all so clinical, like putting down an elderly or dangerous pet.

    An execution is the violent killing of a human being. If that’s what it looks like, it at least becomes a lot harder to fool ourselves about what we’re doing.

  4. mountainpass says:

    {Now she wants Holmes, when he’s ultimately convicted, to feel her pain. β€œβ€˜I think death by firing squad would be totally justified … Just injecting him is painless.’ }

    Death should be painful for these killers.

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