3 Executions on Hold Until Supreme Court Hears Case
Unless Oklahoma comes up with an alternative to controversial drug
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 28, 2015 2:47 PM CST
This undated file photo provided by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections shows Richard Glossip.   (AP Photo/Oklahoma Department of Corrections, File)

(Newser) – Three death-row inmates in Oklahoma now have a much better chance of living long enough to see whether their court challenge to lethal injection is successful. The Supreme Court today ordered Oklahoma to put the executions on hold until the court hears their case in late April, reports NBC News. But SCOTUSblog notes that the ruling is limited: The inmates are challenging the use of a sedative called midazolam, and if Oklahoma can find an alternative in the meantime, the executions could be back on.

Either way, the immediate beneficiary is a murderer named Richard Glossip, who was scheduled to be executed tomorrow. Benjamin Cole and John Grant's executions were to take place in February and March. Midazolam is the first of three drugs used in Oklahoma's lethal injection protocol, but the inmates say it doesn't work effectively and thus amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. They cite last year's botched execution in the state as their prime example.