Alabama opposes inmate's request for stay of execution

AP News
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Posted: Dec 11, 2015 4:15 PM

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Alabama Attorney General's office said in a court filing Friday that an inmate's emergency motion for a stay of execution should be denied because he waited too long to complain about Alabama's execution-drug protocol.

Christopher Brooks isn't entitled to a stay of execution because his complaint about drugs used in the procedure could have been brought before midazolam was added to the combination, representatives of the attorney general's office said in response to Brooks' request, which was filed Dec. 4.

Brooks is scheduled to be put to death Jan. 21 for the rape and bludgeoning death of Deann Campbell more than 20 years ago. Brooks' execution would be Alabama's first in more than two years, and the first using the new three-drug combination that begins with the controversial sedative midazolam.

Brooks' execution date was set on Nov. 23, the same day a judge granted his Nov. 2 request to join litigation involving five other Alabama death row inmates who argue that midazolam is ineffective as a sedative.

The Attorney General's office has accused Brooks of using the litigation as a last-minute ploy to avoid execution. Brooks' complaint suggests that any three-drug combination would be unconstitutional, so the switch to midazolam was insignificant in his case, officials said in the filing. Midazolam is used as a sedative before other drugs are administered to stop the lungs and heart.

"His complaint seeks to end Alabama's use of paralyzing and cardiac-arresting agents, regardless of the first drug administered during the lethal injection process," officials said in the response. "If, as alleged in Brooks' complaint, sodium thiopental and pentobarbital cannot be constitutionally administered as part of a three-drug protocol, then what changed when ADOC switched to midazolam? Nothing."

The state also argues that Brooks is unlikely to be able to prove that an alternative single-drug method will be effective.

Federal Defender John Palombi has said Brooks' execution should be delayed until after an evaluation of whether the drugs involved create an unconstitutional risk of severe pain. An evidentiary hearing in the case is scheduled for April 19.

Death row inmates in several states have filed lawsuits challenging lethal injection procedures and secrecy surrounding manufacturers of the drugs involved.

A divided U.S. Supreme Court in July ruled against Oklahoma inmates who sought to block the use of midazolam and Alabama has argued that that should clear the way for the use of midazolam in the state.