Executing prisoners by lethal injection is not cruel and unusual punishment, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled Wednesday, reports the Louisville Courier-Journal. Unanimously rejecting challenges from two double murderers, the court dismissed arguments that the method Kentucky uses to anesthetize, paralyze, and stop the heart of condemned killers is unconstitutional. The decision affirms a July 2005 ruling by Franklin Circuit Judge Roger Crittenden, who heard evidence from 20 witnesses over seven days before rejecting challenges to the lethal injections of Ralph Baze and Thomas Bowling.
“Conflicting medical testimony prevents us from stating categorically that a prisoner feels no pain,” the justices said. “But the prohibition is against cruel punishment and does not require a complete absence of pain.” The 7-0 decision was the first in the nation by a state high court after a full trial on the merits of lethal injection, said lawyers involved in the case.