California’s death penalty system, dormant for nine years, might move slowly toward resuming executions, reports the San Jose Mercury News. The state’s corrections department agreed to unveil a new execution method by the fall that will be tied to the outcome of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling expected this month in a challenge to Oklahoma’s lethal injection protocol. While California is still far from executing any of the 750 killers on death row, the development marks movement on the issue for the first time in years. There are at least 17 inmates on death row who have exhausted their legal appeals and would be eligible for execution dates.
State prison officials resolved a lawsuit filed last year by the families of victims of condemned killers who argued the state has a legal obligation to implement an execution method. A Sacramento judge found the state should be required to move forward in a case brought by two families, including former UCLA and NFL star Kermit Alexander, whose mother, sister and nephews were murdered 31 years ago by a man now on death row. Death penalty supporters have accused state leaders such as Gov. Jerry Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris of dragging their feet in getting executions back on track. The state has not had an execution since 2006 as a result of legal challenges to its lethal injection method.