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>> Arkansas's push to execute eight convicted prisoners in just 11 days dealt another major setback after a judge blocked the use of one of the three drugs the state uses in lethal injections. The state court issuing a temporary restraining order Wednesday night. McKesson medical pharmaceuticals, maker of Pancuronium Bromide, sued the state, saying Arkansas obtained the drug under false pretenses.
The firm says it never would have sold the drug had it known it would be used in executions, and is demanding the drug be returned or impounded. The state argues it has been unable to obtain the drug from other sources and acknowledged in court papers that if the ruling is upheld all pending executions would be indefinitely postponed.
Arkansas announced plans to rapidly execute prisoners because another drug in its cocktail, Midazolam, is set to expire at the end of April. That chemical has also been difficult to obtain as pharmaceutical companies increasingly refuse to supple drugs for lethal injections. Of the eight inmates set to die, three have already had those sentences stayed.
One of them, Stacey Johnson, was set to die Thursday. He was found guilty of 1993 murder and sexual assault. Johnson had his case returned to a trial court Wednesday Night to reconsider possible DNA evidence. Arkansas has not executed a prisoner in 12 years, capital punishment in the US has fallen to a 25 year low.
Roughly in step with a drop in violent crime nationwide.