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Ninth Circuit refuses stay of execution for California death row inmate

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] Sunday refused to stay the execution [opinion] of Michael Morales [NCADP profile], but in a second decision [PDF text] also approved the presence of a doctor at his execution Tuesday morning to ensure that Morales is unconscious and to defray "an undue risk that [Morales] will suffer excessive pain when he is executed" by lethal injection. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger had previously denied Morales' request for clemency [statement, PDF] and Morales' lawyers plan to file a final appeal with the US Supreme Court.

Last week, US District Judge Jeremy Fogel, concerned that prisoners were conscious during execution by lethal injection and were experiencing extreme pain, ruled [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] that California must change the drugs it uses when executing prisoners. Morales, who will be the 14th prisoner executed in California since it reinstated the death penalty 30 years ago, was convicted of the rape and intentional killing by torture of a 17-year-old girl in 1981. Tanya Schevitz of the San Francisco Chronicle has more.

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