Inmates challenge new execution method in Kentucky

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky's lethal injection protocol was
set to take effect Friday, but three condemned inmates have asked a
judge to stop the state from using it to execute anyone.
Death row inmates Ralph Stevens Baze, Thomas Clyde Bowling and
Brian Keith Moore filed a motion Friday through public defender
David Barron in Franklin Circuit Court asking a judge to declare
that the state violated a Kentucky Supreme Court order in the way
it adopted the new method.
The challenge is set to be heard May 19.
The state's high court barred Kentucky from conducting any
executions in November, finding that officials improperly adopted
the three-drug lethal injection method.
The new challenge raises similar concerns - claiming that the
state failed to spell out how the chemicals would be injected,
authorizing people not qualified to insert intravenous lines to
handle the execution and not allowing death row inmates to address
a public hearing about the three-drug protocol.
"Each of these failures renders the department's regulations
invalid and leaves us still without a validly adopted execution
protocol," Barron said.
Warrants were pending on three inmates when the old protocol was
struck down.
A jury condemned Baze, 54, to death in 1992 for the shooting
deaths of Powell County Sheriff Steven Bennett and deputy Arthur
Briscoe when they tried to serve a warrant on him. Baze has run
through his appeals.
Another inmate, Robert Carl Foley, 53, who was sentenced to
death in 1993 for the murders of two brothers, Rodney and Lynn
Vaughn, during an argument at his home two years earlier, has run
through his appeals.
Foley received a second death sentence for the October 1989
murders of Kimberly Bowersock, Lillian Contino, Jerry McMillen, and
Calvin Reynolds. Prosecutors say he shot the four victims because
he thought one of them had reported him to his parole officer.
The third inmate, Gregory Lee Wilson, 53, was sentenced to death
in October 1988 in Kenton County for kidnapping and murdering
Deborah Pooley a year earlier. Wilson is currently asking the 6th
U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reinstate a lawsuit challenging
the lethal injection method.
The Attorney General's office does not currently have requests
for death warrants for Bowling, condemned to death for a double
murder in Lexington in 1990, and Moore, sentenced to death for a
1979 murder in Louisville.
It remained unclear Friday if or when Gov. Steve Beshear would
act on the warrant requests for Baze, Wilson and Foley.
"The warrants are there awaiting the governor's action," said
Shelley Catherine Johnson, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky Attorney
General's office.
The state embarked on re-implementing its three-drug cocktail in
January by holding public hearings and taking public comments.
Since then, the state Justice Cabinet, which oversees the protocol,
adopted some changes and a pair of legislative committees approved
the method.
The challenge filed Friday is the latest by Baze, who was the
lead plaintiff in a case the U.S. Supreme Court used in 2008 to
rule that the lethal injection protocol used by nearly three dozen
states did not amount to cruel and unusual punishment.
Baze has twice come within weeks of being executed, only to have
the courts halt the procedures while Baze filed appeals of various
legal issues.
Kentucky has executed three people since 1976. Harold McQueen
was executed in the electric chair in 1997 for killing a
convenience store clerk in 1981. Eddie Lee Harper was executed by
lethal injection in 1999. Marco Allen Chapman was executed by
lethal injection in November.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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