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California execution delayed as doctors walk out

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    Grumpy Fucker

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Anesthesiologists raise ethical concerns

Tuesday, February 21, 2006; Posted: 7:48 a.m. EST (12:48 GMT)

SAN QUENTIN, California (AP) -- The planned execution of a man convicted of raping and murdering a 17-year-old girl was delayed until Tuesday night after two anesthesiologists refused to participate because of ethical concerns.

With the execution scheduled for 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, defense lawyers requested a stay from the federal judge who last week ordered San Quentin State Prison to have an anesthesiologist on hand to minimize Michael Angelo Morales' pain as he was put to death by lethal injection. A second anesthesiologist was retained as a backup.

Although U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel denied the motion, both anesthesiologists withdrew, citing ethical concerns raised by his ruling.

The exact wording of the judge's order was not immediately available, but the anesthesiologists issued a statement through the prison saying they were concerned about a requirement that they intervene in the event that Morales woke up or appeared to be in pain.

"Any such intervention would clearly be medically unethical," said the doctors, who have not been identified. "As a result, we have withdrawn from participation in this current process."

The American Medical Association, the American Society of Anesthesiologists and the California Medical Association all opposed the anesthesiologists' participation as unethical and unprofessional.

Prison officials rescheduled the execution for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and said they would employ a different technique: administering a fatal overdose of barbiturate in lieu of the three-drug cocktail typically used in lethal injections.

Morales' attorneys had argued that the three-part lethal injection cocktail used in California and 35 other states violated the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. They said a prisoner would feel excruciating pain from the last two chemicals if he were not fully sedated.

Fogel refused to derail the execution. But he gave prison officials two options: retain the doctors to ensure Morales would be properly anesthetized, or forgo the paralyzing and heart-stopping drugs and overdose him on a sedative. With the anesthesiologists withdrawing, prison officials said they would use the second option.

Prison faces 'death warrant' expiration
Prison spokesman Vernell Crittendon said the prison has until 11:59 p.m. Tuesday to execute Morales. After that, the "death warrant" expires and officials would have to go back to the trial judge who imposed the death sentence in 1983 for another warrant.

Seeking another warrant could prove difficult for the state, however, since the original sentencing judge, Charles McGrath, joined Morales this month in asking Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for clemency in the case.

McGrath said he no longer believed the credibility of a jailhouse informant whose testimony helped land Morales on death row.

Morales has admitted to the crime that put him on death row. In a petition for clemency that Schwarzenegger first turned down on Friday, Morales claimed that he killed Terri Winchell 25 years ago because he was high on PCP and alcohol.

Morales was told of the delay and was "nonchalant," Crittendon said. But Winchell's relatives were visibly upset, he said.

"There was a great deal of concern on their faces under the circumstances of some people that Michael Morales would not suffer," Crittendon said. "They find that to be very disturbing."

Earlier Monday, Morales appeared to have exhausted his options for a reprieve after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider his claim and the governor for the second time denied a request for clemency.

Linkage :ph34r: :blink:

so..basicly.....the guys lawyers said that the lethal injection that is normally used in CA..and 35 other states.....is too mean

for fucks sake....it's an execution...not a tea party.....the guy committed a crime...was sentanced to death...not to have dental surgery
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yeah, cause, having him fucking suffer is too fucking mean. What about the woman he killed....and her family?



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Killer's execution on indefinite hold
Judge's order on medical role leads to postponement
Wednesday, February 22, 2006; Posted: 9:30 a.m. EST (14:30 GMT)

SAN FRANCISCO, California (CNN) -- Michael Morales was not executed as planned Tuesday night after prison officials decided they weren't able to comply with a judge's order that a medical professional administer his lethal injection, a prison spokesman said.

"At this time, San Quentin State Prison is now standing down. There will not be an execution of Michael Morales," Vernell Crittendon told a news conference shortly before Morales was scheduled to die.

The decision to delay the execution was made by the prison warden, Crittendon said. An evidentiary hearing on the constitutionality of California's lethal injection process is scheduled for May 2 or 3.

Asked how Morales responded, Crittendon said, "He was quite relieved to find that he was not going to be executed. He smiled. He nodded. He thanked me." Morales was returned to his cell on death row, he said.

U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel had issued a ruling February 14 stating that Morales should die via a lethal injection of barbiturate, rather than the typical three-drug cocktail that Morales' lawyer claimed constituted cruel and unusual punishment.

Fogel had ordered that the anesthesiologists be present to be sure Morales felt no pain from the trio of drugs -- a powerful sedative, followed by drugs that cause paralysis and heart failure.

Morales, 46, was scheduled to die at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, but it was postponed until 7:30 p.m. when two anesthesiologists, citing ethical concerns, refused to participate. The execution was called off about two hours before that.

"Any such intervention would be medically unethical. As a result, we have withdrawn from participation in the current process," the doctors said in a statement released through the prison.

After the anesthesiologists backed out, the state was given permission to kill Morales with a lethal dose of barbiturate.

The expiration of Morales' death warrant at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday requires that another death warrant be issued.

After the execution was canceled, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger condemned the decision and said in a statement that he stood by his decision to deny clemency to a "convicted murderer and rapist."

"The federal court has interjected itself into the details of the state's execution process," Schwarzenegger said. "I am confident that the convictions and sentence were appropriate in this case. I will continue to fight to uphold California's laws."

During the news conference, Crittendon said the warden called off the execution simply because prison officials could not meet Fogel's demands.

"We are unable to have a licensed medical professional to come forward to inject the medications intravenously, causing the life to end," Crittendon said. "We are unable to find a medical professional that would meet those standards that were set by the courts."

Crittendon said the victim's family "took this very hard. We explained to them, though, that the matter is not resolved in the eyes of the state of California."

Morales was convicted for the 1983 rape and murder of 17-year-old Terry Winchell, who was left to die in a remote vineyard near Lodi in central California.

After the initial postponement, Winchell's father, Mack, said, "I just think the whole judicial system went to hell in my book. I cannot understand it."

He added, "It's been a great shock for Barbara and I both."

Linkage :ph34r: :blink: :wizard:

Edited by Stix, 22 February 2006 - 09:48 AM.

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