Robert Comer was executed yesterday in Arizona with a steady gaze and a defiant smile on his face, the first person put to death in the state since November 2000, the Arizona Republic reports. More executions may be on the horizon. Another Arizona death-row inmate recently lost his last appeal. A third may be extradited from West Virginia.
Of the 37 states that use lethal injection as a means of execution, more than a dozen have either granted stays or have completely halted executions because of legal or ethical challenges. “Because of the lack of standards provided for in the statute, the lethal-injection process subjects condemned prisoners to significant and utterly unnecessary risks that they will be tortured to death,” said public defender Victoria Washington, who, to no avail, has filed motions about the potential cruelty of lethal injection in Arizona. Anti-lethal-injection lobbyists say the paralyzing drug may prevent the condemned person from showing pain or discomfort. That drug and the fatal drug that stops the heart are said to be extremely painful when administered without adequate sedation. “You don’t know what he’s feeling when pancuronium bromide is involved,” said Lisa McCalmont, a former assistant federal public defender in Oklahoma.