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Federal judge halts Missouri executions pending lethal injection changes

[JURIST] US District Judge Fernando Gaitan Jr. halted all executions in Missouri Monday until Missouri can ensure that inmates do not suffer when given a lethal injection. Gaitan gave the Missouri Department of Corrections [official website] until July 15 to find a new way to execute inmates, ruling in the case of death row inmate Michael Taylor. The US Supreme Court [official website] in February refused to vacate [JURIST report] a previous stay of execution for Taylor, but also denied certiorari in Taylor's case challenging lethal injection [JURIST news archive] as cruel and unusual punishment.

Missouri Corrections Director Larry Crawford [official profile] testified during Taylor's hearing that the sole surgeon responsible for mixing the drugs for lethal injections had previously given inmates a low dose of anesthesia that did not last through the last few minutes of their executions and the court also heard testimony that the doctor has dyslexia. Gaitan ordered that a board-certified anesthesiologist take over responsibility for mixing the drugs, adding that the anesthesiologist must administer the drugs or directly supervise another administrator to ensure the inmate is fully unconscious before receiving the final drugs to paralyze the inmate then stop the inmate's heart. AP has more. From St. Louis, the Post-Dispatch has local coverage.

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