Judge Calls for Hearing Hours Before Virginia Execution

1 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

3 murder victims’ families prepare for Alfredo Prieto’s execution.

RICHMOND, Va. – A federal judge called for a hearing to be held hours before a convicted serial killer is scheduled to be executed in Virginia to consider a challenge of the state’s lethal injection drugs that it obtained from Texas. Raver still clearly remember where they were when they learned that their loved ones had been killed: Velma Jefferson was at work in Lawton, Okla., when a family friend unexpectedly appeared with news about her daughter.

Thursday after Alfredo Prieto’s attorneys asked the court stay his execution until officials disclose more information about the pentobarbital it intends to use — including the name of the supplier, tests confirming its sterility and potency and documents showing that the drugs were properly handled. Tina Jefferson, a 24-year-old CIA financial analyst from Oklahoma, was living in Arlington when she was raped and shot to death behind an elementary school there in May 1988. But lawyers from the Virginia Capital Resource Representation Center on Wednesday challenged the use of one of three drugs used in the state’s execution protocol, which Virginia received recently from Texas. The El Salvador native was on death row in California for raping and murdering a 15-year-old girl when DNA evidence linked him to the 1988 slaying of a young couple in Virginia. Federal Public Defender Hilary Potashner in California asked the high court Tuesday to stay Prieto’s execution so that he can continue to fight his death sentence in California on the grounds that he’s intellectually disabled.

Texas allows prison officials to shield where they get execution drugs and Prieto’s attorneys say Virginia officials have not provided that information. The judge on Wednesday granted a temporary restraining order against the state, but the execution could still go forward Thursday evening if the order is vacated after the hearing, said Megan McCracken of the U.C. The Associated Press filed a public records request for the names of the manufacturers and the suppliers of the drugs, but the documents show only that they were provided by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Thursday to allow Virginia to present evidence on why the drug is acceptable and will not be the source of “cruel and unusual punishment” to Prieto, who is believed to have killed nine people and raped four of them in a two-year span from 1988 to 1990.

Texas prisons spokesman Jason Clark told AP last week that the three vials of pentobarbital given to Virginia were legally purchased from a compounding pharmacy, which he declined to name. This lack of transparency prevents the courts from assessing the constitutionality of VDOC’s execution procedure.” Mylan, the manufacturer of the rocuronium bromide — another drug that will be used — said the company sent several letters to Virginia officials when it learned about the drug’s possible use and then demanded that the state return the product when it received no response. Spokeswoman Mila Devlin said in a statement that the company is contractually restricting its distributors from distributing Mylan products, including rocuronium bromide, for use in lethal injection or for any other use outside of the approved labeling or applicable standards of care. But at his fourth and final trial, in Fairfax in 2010, Prieto stood and answered questions from a judge about whether he was cooperating with the prosecution’s mental health expert after his defense, in two prior trials, posited that his client was mentally retarded. So Texas and other states have turned to less regulated compounding pharmacies for made-to-order drugs, and like in this case, have sometimes turned to other states to acquire the necessary drugs.

A federal appeals court said in June he failed to prove that no reasonable juror would find him eligible for execution and that “absent some new ‘smoking gun,'” evidence of his ability to handle everyday tasks was “at best inconclusive.” I gave him a lot of answers.” If Prieto is executed Thursday at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt, Va., his state and federal appeals processes will have been completed in under five years. That does not seem like a short amount of time to the families of the three Northern Virginia victims, who endured three long trials between 2007 and 2010. As Prieto was being led out of the Fairfax courtroom for the last time, Veronica Raver hissed at him: “Hey, Prieto — does your mother know you rape dying dead girls?” Tina Jefferson’s father, Henry Jefferson, died in April 2007, weeks before Prieto’s first trial.

He was a Vietnam veteran and a career soldier who never stopped pushing for an answer to his daughter’s death. “I broke down and started crying” after Arlington County police told him that Prieto had been identified through DNA, he told The Washington Post in 2005. “For a 62-year-old man, that’s something.” Tina was an honors student and a basketball player in high school who served as a resident assistant and president of her sorority at Oklahoma State University. She was last seen at a Giant grocery in Baileys Crossroads at 9:30 p.m. on May 10, 1988, although a witness saw her red Camaro in Arlington not long after that. Their bodies were found in a lot off Hunter Mill Road on Dec. 6, 1988. “He was a gorgeous, wonderful, talented young man,” Fulton’s father, Warren Fulton Jr., told a jury in 2008. “Twenty-two years of work and sacrifice and hopes and dreams, and suddenly it’s over.” After the slayings of Jefferson, Raver and Fulton in 1988, Prieto moved to Manassas, not far from where Sermeno was found dead in September 1989.

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