The on-again, off-again execution of Michael Morales in California was off again today as California officials aid they could not comply with a federal judge’s latest order to revise the state’s lethal-injection procedures, the San Francisco Chronicle reports Morales, 46, was to have been put to death last night for killing a 17-year-old woman in 1981. The execution had been postponed after two anesthesiologists withdrew an agreement to monitor the injection of a three-drug sequence and to make sure Morales was unconscious as he was being put to death.
Yesterday afternoon, U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel said the drug would have to be administered by a licensed professional and injected directly into Morales’ vein, rather than flow through an intravenous tube from outside the death chamber. The other 36 states that execute inmates by lethal injection all use the same combination of drugs that California uses. Fogel’s order was unprecedented in two respects: It would have allowed execution with just sodium pentothal, something that has never been tried, and it would have required that the executioner be in the death chamber with Morales. The state is prohibited from ordering its medical personnel to participate in executions. Fogel has scheduled a hearing May 2 and 3 on the constitutionality of the lethal injection procedure California has used since 1996. Said the victim’s mother: “We feel devastated and angry. We waited 25 years with expectancy, and now this?”