Last-Minute Stay Spares Nev. Murderer

State puts lethal injection on hold until next year's ruling
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 16, 2007 5:47 PM CDT

(Newser) – Nevada stayed a convicted killer's execution today, 90 minutes before he was to receive lethal injection, BBC reports. William Castillo's stay is the latest in a series of postponements by states awaiting a US Supreme Court ruling on lethal injection. The ACLU, which appealed Castillo's case, calls the method "cruel and unusual punishment" that violates constitutional rights.

Lethal injection's drug cocktail aims to limit pain: first comes a sedative, then a paralysis drug and finally a lethal dose to stop the prisoner's heart. Advocates call it painless, but critics argue that a sedated prisoner may be in pain without showing it. The Supreme Court will hear a test case for lethal injection, brought by two Kentucky inmates, in early 2008.