Gov. Timothy M. Kaine on Tuesday stopped all executions in Virginia, including one of a convicted police killer set for next week, until the U.S. Supreme Court issues a ruling on the constitutionality of lethal injections, reports the Virginian-Pilot. In a written statement, Kaine noted that the death penalty has not been carried out in the United States since last Sept. 25, when the high court agreed to accept appeals from two condemned Kentucky prisoners that lethal injections can cause extreme pain that constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. During the interim, about 30 scheduled executions in 13 states have been postponed by courts or other governors, said Kaine, a Democrat.
The Virginia governor said he is temporarily halting capital punishment “respecting the national legal consensus that no execution go forward” until the Supreme Court's ruling, expected before mid-July. Kaine's action was denounced by Attorney General Bob McDonnell, a Republican who may be unopposed for his party's gubernatorial nomination next year. He called the stay “premature,” noting that governors traditionally wait until prisoners exhaust all legal appeals before deciding whether to allow executions to occur.