LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas officials are asking a federal judge to block an effort to subpoena records related to the autopsy of an inmate who lurched and convulsed 20 times during his execution.
The Arkansas State Crime Lab on Friday asked U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker to quash the subpoena issued by federal public defenders challenging the state’s execution procedures. The lawyers want detailed records related to the death of Kenneth Williams, who was executed on April 27. The lab’s attorney said the federal public defenders need to get authorization under a federal health privacy law for the records’ release.
“The ASCL should not be subjected to a potential suit by the estate of Kenneth Williams for violation of privacy rights,” the lab’s attorney said in its filing.
The subpoena had sought the full autopsy report of Williams, along with any notes, photographs or recordings that were taken during the autopsy. The subpoena also sought inspection of all catheters, medication containers, fluid bags and other medical implements collected by the medical examiner.
Scott Braden, a federal public defender for the inmates, said he’ll talk with the lab’s attorneys to see if they work out an agreement to address the concerns raised in last week’s motion. Braden said the records would help in determining how Williams died.
“Until we are able to look at it and review it, we don’t know what they’ll show,” Braden said
Baker blocked Arkansas’ executions, but that order was later overturned. The state put four men to death in April. Arkansas had originally planned to put eight men to death over an 11-day period, but half of the executions were blocked by state and federal courts. The executions were scheduled to take place before Arkansas’ supply of midazolam, a sedative used in its lethal injection process, expired at the end of April. The state has not obtained a new supply of the drug.
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