North Carolina officials, ordered by a federal judge to identify medical personnel to supervise an execution next week, told him yesterday that they had bought and intended to use a device to monitor the brain waves of the condemned inmate, the New York Times reports. The inmate’s attorney said the state’s response to U.S. District Malcolm Howard in Greenville, N.C., amounted to defiance. The dispute arose after two recent judicial decisions required that executions be supervised by medical personnel because condemned inmates might have suffered extreme pain from the chemicals used in lethal injections. Medical codes of ethics prohibit doctors and other health professionals from participating in executions.
The device described in North Carolina filings, a bispectral index monitor, is not a suitable substitute for medical monitoring, its maker and prominent anesthesiologists said. Using only the device to discern the potential suffering of condemned inmates, said an official of its manufactuer, Aspect Medical Systems, “is taking a leap of faith I simply cannot endorse.” Dr. Kelley said his company, based in Newton, Ma., took no position on the death penalty or on executions by lethal injection. The sale of the device on Tuesday was, he said, “a regrettable system failure.”