April 8, 2014
Execution of a Texas death row inmate was back on schedule Monday after a federal appeals court ruled that the state doesn’t have to reveal where it gets its lethal injection drug.
HOUSTON — The execution of a Texas death row inmate was back on schedule Monday after a federal appeals court ruled that the state doesn’t have to reveal where it gets its lethal injection drug.
The ruling from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals means Ramiro Hernandez-Llanas, 44, is set for execution Wednesday.
Attorneys for Hernandez-Llanas and another inmate, Tommy Lynn Sells, had filed a lawsuit last week saying they needed the name of the drug supplier in order to verify the drug’s potency. They said they feared the prisoners could suffer unconstitutional pain and suffering if the drug weren’t tested.
The state argued it was protecting the company from threats of violence.
A lower court initially sided with the inmates, but the 5th Circuit reversed that ruling last week for Sells, who was executed Thursday after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the appeals court decision. The appeals court had said it would rule later on Hernandez-Llanas’ case.
The state attorney general’s office had urged the 5th Circuit to lift the lower court order, arguing that the new supply of pentobarbital came from a licensed compounding pharmacy. The state also noted that the drug had been used “painlessly and successfully” on Sells, and that there was “no pharmacy, no drug and no assurance of quality that Hernandez would find satisfactory.”
Attorneys have decided not to appeal Monday’s ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court because the high court turned down the same request from Sells last week, according to Maurie Levin, among the lawyers who filed the drug secrecy lawsuit.
Instead, his lawyers have turned to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, arguing that his sentence should be commuted to life in prison or his execution at least delayed because of what they say was faulty testimony from psychologists at his trial. The psychologists told jurors that Hernandez-Llanas was not mentally impaired and would remain a future danger, which his lawyers dispute.