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Appeals court stays Arizona execution over drug, executioner info

By Kyle Johnson,

A federal appeals court stayed an upcoming execution in Arizona Saturday, saying that more information on the lethal drugs and the executioner need to be revealed.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that information on the drugs need to be turned over to Joseph Wood and his defense team under the First Amendment as the drug combination has been known to lead to "flawed executions," Arizona Republic reports.

Wood is on death row for the 1989 murders of estranged girlfriend Debra Dietz and her father Eugene Dietz. His execution was scheduled for Wednesday.

The state planned on using a new drug cocktail to end his life, but refused to divulge how they obtained the drugs or the manufacturer. One drug in question, Midazolam, has been involved in the botched executions in Ohio and Oklahoma from earlier in the year.

Arizona has claimed that information, especially relating to the execution team, is protected by so-called shield laws.

In the majority opinion, Judge Sidney R. Thomas said that states have been trying to hide the identities and that the previously failed executions "have sparked public curiosity and debate over the types -- and quality -- of drugs that should be used in lethal injections."

According to the Los Angeles Times, state Attorney General's Office spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said "turning over the drug protocol is not an option."

Arizona was willing to turn over what drugs were to be used in the execution, but Wood wanted the drug manufacturer and to see whether those set to execute him were properly certified.

Grisham noted after the ruling that the stay would definitely be appealed due to "the severity of his crime."

 
 

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