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Man to Be Executed in a Way Unlike Any Other US Inmate

Etomidate has never been used before in a lethal injection here
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 24, 2017 7:33 AM CDT

(Newser) – Florida hasn't put anyone to death since January 2016. That's slated to change Thursday, along with one other thing: the drug cocktail used to do so. Mark James Asay, 53, is scheduled to die by lethal injection, with the increasingly difficult to obtain anesthetic midazolam being replaced by etomidate, which has never been used in a US execution. The use of the latter was OKed by the Florida Supreme Court, which in denying a stay of execution for Asay noted that it's not always possible to eliminate pain from executions. Asay's lawyer tells Reuters that pain can occur as etomidate is administered, and that it can cause the body to writhe, making it tough "to know when the guy is unconscious."

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After the etomidate, the paralytic rocuronium bromide will be injected, followed by the heart-stopping potassium acetate. The AP reports that potassium acetate has only been used in one prior execution—mistakenly, it turns out—in 2015 in Oklahoma. In what the Washington Post calls a "largely symbolic move," the Johnson & Johnson-owned Janssen, which invented etomidate, issued a statement saying its innovations save lives, and it "doesn't condone" such a use for its drug. But at this point it's off-patent and made by a number of generic manufacturers. Should the Supreme Court deny Asay's final appeal, his execution will take place after 6pm. Asay is set to be the first white man put to death in Florida for killing a black man, 34-year-old Robert Lee Booker; Asay also killed Robert McDowell in a separate incident, also in Jacksonville in 1987. (Read more lethal injection stories.)

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