South Dakota looks at changing method for lethal injectionSouth Dakota is considering changing its lethal injection procedure after the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said it could not use its supply of a key ingredient in executions, South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley said Tuesday.
By: KRISTI EATON , Associated Press
South Dakota is considering changing its lethal injection procedure after the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said it could not use its supply of a key ingredient in executions, South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley said Tuesday.
The DEA notified the South Dakota Department of Corrections last month that it had concerns over the importation and use of sodium thiopental from a company based in Mumbai, India, Jackley said. The drug is part of a three-drug protocol used by South Dakota in its executions.
The DEA has been investigating whether several states properly registered with federal regulators before importing the sedative, which is no longer manufactured in the United States and is in scarce supply worldwide. Stockpiles of sodium thiopental were confiscated from a handful of states that use it in executions, including Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky, South Carolina and Tennessee.
Jackley said Tuesday that the concerns were misplaced because all the proper customs paperwork was in order and the drug had been independently tested for safety and efficacy.
He declined to confirm whether the state was finalizing a plan for a new one-drug protocol.
A lawyer for Donald Moeller, a South Dakota death-row inmate appealing his sentence, wrote in a motion filed Friday that lawyers for the state told her the plan for a new drug protocol will be approved by Saturday.
“The state is taking further measures, which include additional lethal injection protocol options. It may be a one or two or three-drug protocol,” Jackley said.
He said he hopes to resolve the issue before Moeller’s execution, which is likely the next one to be scheduled in the state.
Moeller was sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a 9-year-old Sioux Falls girl in 1990.
Deborah Czuba, Moeller’s attorney, questioned the quality of the sodium thiopental supply in her motion, saying it was ordered “from a ramshackle basement office in Mumbai, India.”
She said the state did not research the background of the drug manufacturer and did not obtain instructions on how to use or store the drug.
Jackley said he is open to the DEA independently testing the drug supply, but said the state will not forfeit the supply without a hearing and appeal, if necessary.
A spokeswoman for the DEA did not respond to a message seeking comment.