Arizona execution drug source being questioned

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By Belo Content KREM By Belo Content KREM

PHOENIX (AP) -- Lawyers for two Arizona death row prisoners on Wednesday asked the state Department of Corrections for information about the source of drugs for any upcoming executions.

Dale Baich, who oversees the federal public defender's office for the Arizona district that represents death-row inmates, sent a letter to Corrections Department Director Charles Ryan after learning that Arizona plans to use midazolam and hydromorphone in a two-drug protocol.

Those drugs were used in a recent Ohio execution that was problematic, and the sedative midazolam was used in a botched execution Tuesday night in Oklahoma, Baich said.

He's concerned that Arizona "intends to experiment in the same way that Ohio and Oklahoma have done," Baich said.

Arizona officials announced last month that the state was changing from a single drug for executions to a two-drug combination because it is no longer able to obtain the previous drug pentobarbital.

The previous 11 executions conducted by the state since 2011 used pentobarbital, but its sole manufacturer has refused to sell it to states for use in executions.

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne has said state law blocks release of the new drugs' supplier.

But Baich's letter asks Ryan for information about the source of the drugs, the manufacturer or compounder of the drugs and the method by which Arizona selected midazolam and hydromorphone.

Last year, a federal judge ordered the Corrections Department to turn over information on the source of the drugs that were going to be used to execute two death-row inmates in October.

State prosecutors already have asked the Arizona Supreme Court to order the execution of Joseph Rudolph Wood III.

Wood, 55, was sentenced to death for the 1989 killings of his estranged girlfriend and her father at a Tucson auto-body shop.

Defense lawyers say Pete Carl Rogovich also has exhausted his appeals, although the state hasn't asked the Arizona Supreme Court for a warrant of execution yet. Rogovich, 48, received the death penalty for a 1992 crime spree in which he fatally shot four people and robbed two businesses at a Phoenix trailer park.