Corrections department says it has execution drugs

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BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Louisiana’s corrections department said Friday that it has the two drugs needed to execute a DeSoto Parish man next week by lethal injection for the 1992 murder of his 6-year-old stepson.

Christopher Sepulvado is scheduled to be executed Wednesday, but questions had been raised about whether the Louisiana State Penitentiary would have the drugs needed to carry out the plans.

Drugs used in executions have become more difficult to acquire, as companies have been resistant to sell them for such a purpose.

The state had trouble purchasing the lethal injection drug pentobarbital that its execution protocol said would be used for the injection. So, the Department of Corrections announced this week that it was changing its execution process to allow for a two-drug combination used in Ohio that includes the sedative midazolam and the painkiller hydromorphone.

Louisiana received a copy of Ohio’s execution policy to make the changes.

Pam Laborde, a state corrections department spokeswoman, said the agency’s two pharmacies commonly carry the drugs used in Louisiana’s new lethal injection plan.

“The Department has sufficient supplies of both drugs to carry out the execution of Christopher Sepulvado as currently scheduled,” Laborde said in an emailed statement Friday.

Sepulvado’s lawyers are asking a Baton Rouge-based federal judge and the U.S. Supreme Court to stop the execution plans.

They say the two-drug combination increases the risk of painful and prolonged death and could violate Sepulvado’s constitutional right against cruel and unusual punishment. They cite witness statements describing a man recently executed in Ohio as gasping, struggling and convulsing for up to 15 minutes after the drugs began flowing.

Dennis McGuire was put to death Jan. 16 in Ohio for raping and killing a pregnant newlywed in 1989. The combination of drugs used to execute him had never before been used in the U.S., and his fitful final moments have sparked criticism. McGuire took 26 minutes to die.

Sepulvado was convicted of first-degree murder for the killing of Wesley Mercer.

Court records say Sepulvado repeatedly hit Mercer on the head with a screwdriver handle and then immersed him in a bathtub filled with scalding water after the boy came home from school with soiled pants.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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