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Arizona execution drug source being questioned

PHOENIX — Lawyers for two Arizona death row prisoners on Wednesday asked
the state Department of Corrections for information about the source of drugs
for any upcoming executions.

Dale Baich, who oversees the federal public defender’s office for the Arizona
district that represents death-row inmates, sent a letter to Corrections
Department Director Charles Ryan after learning that Arizona plans to use
midazolam and hydromorphone in a two-drug protocol.

Those drugs were used in a recent Ohio execution that was problematic, and the
sedative midazolam was used in a botched execution Tuesday night in Oklahoma,
Baich said.

He’s concerned that Arizona “intends to experiment in the same way that Ohio
and Oklahoma have done,” Baich said.

Arizona officials announced last month that the state was changing from a
single drug for executions to a two-drug combination because it is no longer
able to obtain the previous drug pentobarbital.

The previous 11 executions conducted by the state since 2011 used
pentobarbital, but its sole manufacturer has refused to sell it to states for
use in executions.

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne has said state law blocks release of the new
drugs’ supplier.

But Baich’s letter asks Ryan for information about the source of the drugs, the
manufacturer or compounder of the drugs and the method by which Arizona selected
midazolam and hydromorphone.

Last year, a federal judge ordered the Corrections Department to turn over
information on the source of the drugs that were going to be used to execute two
death-row inmates in October.

State prosecutors already have asked the Arizona Supreme Court to order the
execution of Joseph Rudolph Wood III.

Wood, 55, was sentenced to death for the 1989 killings of his estranged
girlfriend and her father at a Tucson auto-body shop.

Defense lawyers say Pete Carl Rogovich also has exhausted his appeals, although
the state hasn’t asked the Arizona Supreme Court for a warrant of execution yet.
Rogovich, 48, received the death penalty for a 1992 crime spree in which he
fatally shot four people and robbed two businesses at a Phoenix trailer park.

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