Possible Problems With Lethal Injection Drugs Stop Tennessee Execution

The governor temporarily halted a scheduled execution in Tennessee on Thursday night, although it is not clear exactly why.

Oscar Franklin Smith, 72 years old, was set to be executed by lethal injection. However, Governor. Bill Lee gave a temporary reprieve. The governor issued a statement stating that “oversight was made in preparation for lethal injectable,” but did not explain the details.

The reprieve lasts until June 1.

Recently, controversy has erupted over the use of drugs by states to execute prisoner executions. This is especially true in Tennessee. Smith had been scheduled for execution in 2020. However, his lawyers brought a lawsuit over the 3-drug combination they planned to use. While the cocktail was supposed to stop Smith’s heartbeat, it allowed him to be conscious for several more minutes and feel intense pain in his legs. Midazolam is one of the drugs that was supposed to make the prisoner unconscious. However, it has not been proven to be effective in certain executions.

Kelley Henry, Smith’s defense lawyer, said TennesseanShe believes that the execution drugs were likely misused by the prison. Although she requested proof from Tennessee Department of Correction to show that drugs met the required testing standards, the request was unsuccessful.

Smith was sentenced death by hanging in 1990, after being convicted of murdering his wife and their two teenage boys from another marriage. Smith was innocent throughout his confinement. He has been trying to get courts to consider whether new DNA evidence on one of the murder weapons—DNA that doesn’t match his—could prove his innocence. The effort was rejected by both the Supreme Court of the State and the U.S. Supreme Court.

South Carolina’s Supreme Court has temporarily suspended a scheduled execution by firing squad that was due to take place next week. Richard Moore, an inmate on death row was to be executed April 29. South Carolina’s execution procedures were changed to either firing squad or electric chair in 2021 due to issues with lethal injection cocktail.

Moore opposes the execution. His attorneys argue that the state can’t retroactively alter the methods of execution against him. Moore was granted a temporary reprieve by the South Carolina Supreme Court on Wednesday. While the reasons were not explained, it stated that the South Carolina Supreme Court would shortly issue an explanation explaining the circumstances of the order.

Smith and Moore might have made it this far. However, Carl Wayne Buntion, a Texas prisoner, was executed last night by lethal injection. Buntion (78) was Texas’s oldest death row inmate. He was sentenced in 1990 for the murder of a Houston officer. After a short time, Buntion was administered a fatal dose of pentobarbital. He was declared dead at 6:39 pm.