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Lethal Injections Criticized As Cruel: Attorney Wants Court to Mandate Medical Professionals' Involvement

Eric Rich
November 16, 2006; Page B06
The Washington Post

BALTIMORE, Nov. 15 -- An attorney for a condemned man said in federal court Wednesday that Maryland's method of execution risks causing excruciating but undetectable pain and would not be permitted under state law even "to euthanize household pets or barnyard animals."

Attorney A. Stephen Hut Jr., speaking during closing arguments in a civil suit filed on behalf of death row inmate Vernon L. Evans Jr., said the state's specific method of execution -- which, as in most other states, employs three chemicals in sequence -- should be ruled unconstitutionally cruel.

The first chemical anesthetizes the inmate, the second paralyzes the muscles and the third stops the heart. Evans's attorneys argued that the second chemical serves little purpose and masks whether the inmate is conscious, potentially concealing signs of intense and unnecessary suffering.

Evans's attorneys are asking for various remedies, including that medical professionals be involved and that contingency plans be established for when problems arise.


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