[JURIST] Virginia [JURIST news archive] executed a man Thursday night using the electric chair, the first execution [JURIST news archive] by electrocution in the country in over two years. Brandon Wayne Hedrick, convicted of the rape and murder of a 23 year old women in 1998, chose electrocution over lethal injection [Washington Times report]. Virginia allows death row inmates to choose their method of execution, and Hedrick became the fourth person to choose the electric chair over lethal injection since Virginia authorized lethal injections in 1995.
A lawyer for Hedrick suggested that Hedrick chose electrocution over lethal injection because he was concerned about the pain involved with lethal injection [JURIST news archive]. The common three-drug cocktail used in lethal injections has come under scrutiny [JURIST report] recently, with critics believing that the injection causes death row inmates excruciating pain right before they die. The inmate first receives a dose of anesthesia, then a drug to paralyze voluntary muscles, and lastly a drug to stop the inmate's heart. In some cases, the anesthesia may not be strong enough [JURIST report] and fails to make the inmate unconscious before receiving the other drugs. In June, the US Supreme Court allowed death row inmates to appeal their state's method of execution [JURIST report] after all other appeals have been exhausted, in a case where a Florida inmate is arguing that Florida's lethal injection procedures violate the Eighth Amendment. Reuters has more. The Richmond Times-Dispatch has local coverage.