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Georgia Supreme Court stays execution of death row inmate

[JURIST] The Georgia Supreme Court granted a stay of execution [order, PDF; press release, PDF] Thursday to convicted killer Jack Alderman. The death row inmate was scheduled to die Friday at 7PM ET and had already selected his last meal. The court said it granted the stay pending a US Supreme Court ruling in Baze v. Rees (07-5439)[docket; cert. petition, PDF], a case challenging lethal injection as unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment. The Georgia court had initially denied a stay [JURIST report], but said it was also influenced by the US Supreme Court's decision [order, PDF; JURIST report] Wednesday to stop an execution that was scheduled in Virginia.

Georgia, like Nevada and 35 other states, uses a controversial three-drug mixture [DPIC backgrounder] of an anesthetic, a muscle paralyzer and a substance to stop the heart. Several constitutional challenges [JURIST news archive] to lethal injection have arisen across the country, arguing that the first drug fails to make the inmate fully unconscious, thereby making the inmate suffer excruciating pain when the heart-stopping drug is injected. Reuters has more. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has local coverage.

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