MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Alabama Supreme Court on Monday set a Jan. 21 execution date for a man convicted of raping and murdering a woman more than 20 years ago.
If carried out, the death sentence against Christopher Brooks would mark Alabama's first execution in more than two years.
However, his attorney said he will ask a federal judge for a stay after Brooks joined an ongoing lawsuit challenging the state's lethal injection drug combination and process as cruel and unusual punishment.
Justices handed down the execution date Monday, the same day a federal judge granted Brooks' Nov. 2 request to join the lethal injection lawsuit filed by other death row inmates. The inmates argue that the first drug Alabama plans to use, midazolam, is ineffective and wouldn't render them unconscious before subsequent drugs stopped their lungs and heart. Lawyers have made the same argument, unsuccessfully, on behalf of death row inmates in other states.
Brooks' attorney, John Anthony Palombi, an assistant federal defender, said it was premature to set an execution date.
"To execute Mr. Brooks before then using the present method would subject him to a substantial risk of serious harm, as the current protocol uses an inadequate anesthetic, a paralytic that causes suffocation and a third drug that causes the sensation of being burned alive from the inside," Palombi said in a statement.
U.S. District Judge Keith Watkins said that Brooks has until Dec. 4 to file for a stay of execution.
The state attorney general's office has argued that the U.S. Supreme Court has already upheld Oklahoma's use of midazolam. The inmates have argued that Alabama's drug combination, and procedures, are different from Oklahoma's. The case is set for an evidentiary hearing on April 19.
Brooks was convicted for the 1993 murder and rape of Deann Campbell of Homewood.
Alabama has not carried out an execution since July of 2013. The state has had difficulty obtaining lethal injection drugs, and has been in litigation after announcing a switch to a new drug combination.