Un­cer­tainty over ex­e­cu­tion drug re­quires re­view, in­sists US lawyer


At­tor­neys for a Ge­or­gia woman on death row say ap­par­ent un­cer­tainty about what caused cloudi­ness in a lethal in­jec­tion drug strength­ens their ar­gu­ment that she not be put to death un­til a judge de­ter­mines her rights won’t be vi­o­lated.

In a court fil­ing late Thurs­day, at­tor­neys for Kelly Re­nee Gis­sen­daner asked a judge to or­der the state to dis­close in­for­ma­tion for a “mean­ing­ful in­quiry” into the stor­age and de­liv­ery of the com­pounded pen­to­bar­bi­tal and the phar­ma­cists’ pro­ce­dures.

They also asked the judge to deny a mo­tion from the state to dis­miss a com­plaint by Gis­sen­daner that her civil rights were be­ing vi­o­lated.

State of­fi­cials on March 2 called off Gis­sen­daner’s ex­e­cu­tion, say­ing the drug they in­tended to use ap­peared “cloudy.”

The Ge­or­gia Depart­ment of Cor­rec­tions said in an April 16 news re­lease that an ex­pert’s anal­y­sis found “the most likely cause” was ship­ping and stor­ing the drug at a tem­per­a­ture that was too low.

Along with the news re­lease, the depart­ment re­leased lab re­ports, a sworn state­ment from the ex­pert hired by the state and a short video show­ing a sy­ringe of clear liq­uid with chunks of a white solid float­ing in it.

But Ge­or­gia pri­son of­fi­cials filed court doc­u­ments last week re­veal­ing that a sep­a­rate test done by the depart­ment and com­pleted April 3 in­di­cated cold stor- age tem­per­a­tures may not have been to blame for the “cloudy” ap­pear­ance of the drug. A new sam­ple of the drug stored at a cold tem­per­a­ture was not af­fected, ac­cord­ing to those doc­u­ments.

A spokes­woman for the Ge­or­gia Depart­ment of Cor­rec­tions was not avail­able for com­ment early Fri­day.

Gis­sen­daner is the only woman on Ge­or­gia’s death row and would have been the first woman ex­e­cuted by the state in 70 years. She was con­victed of mur­der in the Fe­bru­ary 1997 slay­ing of her hus­band, Dou­glas Gis­sen­daner. Pros­e­cu­tors said she con­spired with her lover, Gre­gory Owen, who stabbed Dou­glas Gis­sen­daner to death. Owen is serv­ing a life sen­tence and is el­i­gi­ble for pa­role in eight years.

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