Federal Judge May Allow Lethal Injection Change

Nov 11, 2016

Lethal injection chamber at Holman Correctional Facility, Atmore, Ala.

A federal judge may allow Alabama to change its lethal injection method for an inmate's execution scheduled for next month.

Al.com reports U.S. District Court Judge Keith Watkins gave Ronald Bert Smith's attorneys until noon on Nov. 16 to submit, in writing, why the state should not execute Smith using "a large initial dose of midazolam, followed by continuous infusion" of the sedative.

Smith and other death row inmates have been challenging the use of midazolam in Alabama's three-drug lethal injection process. They say the sedative isn’t effective enough to prevent severe pain caused by the other two execution drugs, rocuronium bromide and potassium chloride.

But they say a large enough dose of midazolam would be an effective execution drug on its own.

Judge Watkins offered death row inmate Christopher Brooks the opportunity to be executed by one large midazolam dose, but Brooks refused and was executed with the three-drug cocktail in January.

Smith is scheduled to be executed on Dec. 8 for the 1994 killing of a Huntsville convenience store clerk during a robbery.