Texas has been on a slower than usual pace in executing death row inmates this year, but a federal appeals court’s ruling may put the state back in the business of carrying out death sentences, reports the Houston Chronicle. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that questions about the drug the state plans to use in executions aren’t enough reason to delay five executions. A state court stopped the execution of three of the five men involved in the case on unrelated grounds, including the case of Robert Jennings, who had been scheduled to die tonight. The federal appeals court case could mean the executions of Terry Edwards and Ramiro Gonzales will go forward over the next two months.
Texas has executed six prisoners in 2016, the slowest pace since 2010, when 10 people were sent to the death chamber. With at least three more executions scheduled before year’s end, 2016 could mark the first time since 1996 that Texas has executed fewer than 10 people. Edwards is awaiting execution on Oct. 19 for the 2002 robbery and shooting deaths of two people at a Dallas restaurant. Gonzales was scheduled for execution on Nov. 2 for the 2001 kidnapping, sexual assault and killing of an 18-year-old woman in Medina County. In this week’s ruling, the appeals court, led by Judge Patrick Higginbotham, found no grounds to force the state to test pentobarbital, an anesthetic that in large doses can cause death.