Virginia inmate facing execution argues
against drug 'cocktail'
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[January 18, 2017]
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Virginia
inmate set to be executed on Wednesday for murdering two young sisters
during a 2006 killing spree has asked the Supreme Court for a stay,
arguing that the first-ever use of compounded lethal drugs violates his
Ricky Gray, 39, is scheduled to die by lethal injection on Wednesday
evening at the Greensville Correctional Center if the U.S. high court
turns down his bid for a stay.
Gray's lawyers filed an emergency petition with the Supreme Court on
Tuesday, saying that the three-drug combination could cause Gray
unnecessary suffering and thereby violate constitutional guarantees
against cruel and unusual punishment.
The execution would mark the first time a U.S. state has used two of the
drugs - midazolam and potassium chloride - provided by a compounding
pharmacy, according to the court filing.
Gray's lawyers argue that compounding pharmacies typically follow an
informal recipe attempting to approximate the patented process approved
by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Midazolam is an anesthetic and potassium chloride stops the heart. The
third drug in the so-called cocktail, rocuronium bromide, causes
Gray's attorneys say that midazolam has already failed to render
prisoners unconscious during executions in Alabama, Arizona, Ohio and
Pharmaceutical manufacturers have stopped making some drugs available
for use in executions, and Virginia state law allows the vendor's
identity to remain secret.
Arizona last month reached a settlement with lawyers for death row
inmates that would bar midazolam from use in executions.
Gray was sentenced to die for the 2006 slayings of sisters Ruby Harvey,
4, and Stella Harvey, 9, in Richmond. He also killed their parents,
Bryan Harvey, 49, and Kathryn Harvey, 39.
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Death row inmate Ricky Gray is shown in this undated photo released
in Washington, DC, U.S. in 2016. Virginia Department of
Corrections/Handout via REUTERS
His accomplice, Ray Dandridge, was sentenced to life. The pair also
killed Ashley Baskerville, 21, who had been a lookout when Gray
killed the Harveys as well as her mother, Mary Tucker, 47, and
stepfather Percyell Tucker, 55.
Gray has said he is willing to die by firing squad, which is not an
option for executions in Virginia.
If carried out, the execution will be second in the United States
this year. The United States has executed 1,453 people since the
Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, according to the
Death Penalty Information Center.
(Reporting by Ian Simpson, editing by G Crosse)
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