Virginia preparing to execute 1st inmate in nearly 3 years

29 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Governor Won’t Stop Execution Sentence in Reston Killings.

Virginia is poised to execute a convicted serial killer, who claims he is intellectually disabled, using lethal injection drugs from Texas because the state’s supply of another controversial drug will expire the day before the execution is supposed to take place.“After a thorough review of the facts of this case, the actions of the various federal and state courts, and the petitions and recommendations of individuals representing both Mr.According to a court filing, the lawyer for an Oklahoma death row inmate is claiming that his client shouldn’t have to use an alternative to pentobarbital, one of the chemicals in the lethal injection cocktail.

Unless Virginia’s governor, Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, or the US supreme court steps in this week, Alfredo Prieto will be the first Virginia inmate to be executed in nearly three years on Thursday. His is the third execution the US will carry out this week, after the planned lethal injections of Kelly Gissendaner in Georgia on Tuesday and Richard Glossip in Oklahoma on Wednesday. The El Salvador native was already facing execution in California for raping and murdering a 15-year-old girl when a Virginia jury sentenced him to death in 2010 for the 1988 killings of Rachael Raver and her boyfriend, Warren Fulton III.

But as Terri Langford with the Texas Tribune says, Texas doesn’t have to legally disclose where the drugs are coming from – thanks to a bill passed by the state legislature earlier this year. “The Texas Department of Criminal Justice says it’s not making its own pentobarbital,” Langford says. “It is buying it. It is not saying where it’s getting it and by a new state law it doesn’t have to right now.” Langford says there’s nothing illegal about Texas selling its pentobarbital – where the source is from – to other states. “In fact, in 2014 when Texas was low on pentobarbital, the state of Virginia – the Virginia Department of Corrections there – transferred or sent over pentobarbital to Texas,” she says. Authorities have said DNA and ballistics evidence has linked Prieto to several other killings in California and Virginia but he was never prosecuted because he had already been sentenced to death.

Evidence of a third Northern Virginia slaying, of Veronica “Tina” Jefferson in Arlington in May 1988, was also presented to the jury during its sentencing phases. Matthew Raver, Rachael Raver’s brother, said Prieto’s seemingly endless efforts to delay his execution have felt like “salt in the wound” for his family, which remains devastated by his sister’s death nearly three decades later.

This summer, a federal appeals court upheld the death sentence, rejecting Prieto’s claim he was ineligible for execution due to an intellectual disability. Authorities believe Prieto is responsible for nine killings between 1988 and 1990, when he was arrested in Ontario, Calif., for the rape and murder of 15-year-old Yvette Woodruff.

Supreme Court ruled that the three-drug execution cocktail that the state uses there – midazolam, pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride – did not constitute cruel and unusual punishment. Prieto’s exposure to violence in warn-torn El Salvador and a lack of proper nutrition because his family was poor contributed to “significant brain dysfunction” that affected his ability to think abstractly and control his impulses, Ricardo Weinstein, a psychologist who evaluated Prieto at the defense’s request, said during his trial in 2007. As a child, Prieto struggled with learning and was quiet and withdrawn, often sitting alone and “staring blankly at nothing”, Prieto’s attorneys said last week in their request to McAuliffe to delay the execution. During trials in Fairfax in 2007 and 2008, defense lawyers presented evidence that Prieto’s IQ fell below the state standard for mental retardation.

In order to prove that Oklahoma did not try hard enough to find more humane alternatives to its execution cocktail, Glossip’s attorneys must establish that alternatives are available. With Prieto’s appeals nearly exhausted, McAuliffe said Monday that he had thoroughly reviewed the facts and legal proceedings of the case, and “I have decided not to intervene in this execution.

Although the two medical centers contracted to provide health care to inmates — Texas Tech University and the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston — do have compounding licenses, Clark said neither of them has been asked to provide the drug. “We would not utilize them,” Clark said. Pharmacies with the appropriate licensing can mix a batch of pentobarbital, and Texas turned to compounding pharmacies in 2013 because manufacturers of the drug stopped selling to the prison system.

Langford says the federal attorneys are asking why Oklahoma can’t just ask Texas for the pentobarbital. “It’s a counter-intuitive argument,” Langford says. “Because we’ve got federal public defenders asking for an alternative lethal drug.” States across the nation have struggled to obtain execution drugs because pharmaceutical companies have been pressured to stop selling them to prisons for lethal injections. The legislation, Senate Bill 1679, was intended to protect the companies providing the drugs from harassment and threats, according to author state Sen. Prieto has also asked the justices to rule on the constitutionality of Virginia’s policy of automatically placing death row inmates in solitary confinement. At a second trial in 2008, the jury again rejected the retardation defense, convicted Prieto and voted for two death sentences, which Bellows imposed.

In 2011, the European Union put severe restrictions on exports of drugs commonly used in executions, while several domestic drug manufacturers began cutting off supplies. Death penalty opponents, who have been pressing McAuliffe to call off the execution, plan to hold vigils at 10 locations across the state on Thursday evening. Dede Raver, Rachael Raver’s sister, said she believes Prieto’s execution will help her and others who were affected by the killings to close a long and painful chapter in their lives. “I have no interest in taking someone’s life away, but honestly I feel like Prieto will return to hell,” she said. “This man is so evil and he has no regard for human life.”

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