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Judge rejects claims execution drug will cause great pain

FILE - In this undated file photo released by the Georgia Department of Corrections, J.W. Ledford Jr., poses for a photo. Lawyers for Ledford, a Georgia death row inmate argue the state's lethal injection drug will cause him unconstitutional suffering and that execution by firing squad is the only appropriate alternative. J.W. Ledford Jr. is set to be put to death Tuesday, May 16, 2017, by injection of the barbiturate pentobarbital. (Georgia Department of Corrections via AP)

ATLANTA (AP) — The Latest on a legal challenge to the scheduled execution of a Georgia death row inmate (all times local):

9:30 p.m.

A federal judge has rejected claims by a Georgia inmate’s lawyers that a lethal injection drug will cause him unconstitutional suffering.

J.W. Ledford Jr. is set to be executed Tuesday. The 45-year-old was convicted of murder in the January 1992 stabbing death of his neighbor, Dr. Harry Johnston.

Ledford’s lawyers say injecting him with pentobarbital risks causing him great pain because of another prescription medication he’s been taking for more than a decade.

U.S. District Judge wrote Friday that Ledford’s lawyers had failed to show that execution by pentobarbital would be “sure or very likely” to cause him extreme pain as required by U.S. Supreme Court precedent. Jones also said that Ledford chose to wait until just a few days before his execution date, which he said suggests a stalling tactic.

Ledford’s lawyers filed notice of their intent to appeal to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

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2:15 p.m.

State lawyers are disputing claims by attorneys for a Georgia inmate that a lethal injection drug will cause him unconstitutional suffering.

J.W. Ledford Jr. is set to be executed Tuesday by injection of the barbiturate pentobarbital. The 45-year-old was convicted of murder in the January 1992 stabbing death of his neighbor, Dr. Harry Johnston.

Ledford’s lawyers say injecting him with pentobarbital risks causing him great pain because of another prescription medication he’s been taking for more than a decade.

State lawyers say federal appeals court precedent bars the suggestion by Ledford’s lawyers that the state use a firing squad instead. They also say Ledford’s lawyers have failed to demonstrate a risk of severe pain that is substantial compared to the known alternatives as required by a U.S. Supreme Court standard.

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9:05 a.m.

Lawyers for a Georgia death row inmate argue the state’s lethal injection drug will cause him unconstitutional suffering and that execution by firing squad is the only appropriate alternative.

J.W. Ledford Jr. is set to be put to death Tuesday by injection of the barbiturate pentobarbital. The 45-year-old was convicted of murder in the January 1992 stabbing death of his neighbor, Dr. Harry Johnston.

Ledford’s lawyers say his chronic nerve pain has been treated with the drug gabapentin for more than a decade. They cite experts who say exposure to gabapentin alters brain chemistry in a way that pentobarbital cannot be relied upon to make him unconscious and insensate. They say that means there’s a substantial risk he’ll experience great pain as the drug attacks his respiratory system.

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