Virginia Execution Could Face Delay In Dispute Over Drug Protocol

A Virginia man’s execution scheduled for Thursday is in doubt after a federal judge near Washington, D.C., ordered it delayed and then sent the case to another judge in Richmond, the Washington Post reports. The first judge said a court should rule on whether a drug used in the execution process would cause murderer Alfredo Prieto unnecessary pain. The second judge could hold a hearing or decide the case solely on the briefs. Michael Kelly, spokesman for Attorney General Mark Herring, said Virginia officials would be prepared to carry out the execution Thursday night if there were no court order preventing it.

Prieto, 49, faces lethal injection for the fatal 1988 shootings of a woman and man. He also was convicted in California of the 1990 murder of a teen girl and is linked by DNA or ballistics to six other slayings between 1988 and 1990. Prieto's attorneys from the Virginia Capital Representation Resource Center have challenged the use of one of three drugs used in the state's execution protocol, which Virginia received from Texas. They say the first drug in the process, pentobarbital, can be volatile if improperly compounded or maintained and that it caused undue suffering to inmates executed in Oklahoma, Texas and South Dakota.

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