Hours before the scheduled execution of an Arizona death row inmate, the Department of Justice informed the state that it should not use a controversial drug as part of the execution protocol because the state had illegally obtained the drug from a foreign source.
The last-minute move stunned lawyers for convicted murderer Donald Beaty who had argued for months that Arizona hadn't been in compliance with federal law regarding the importation of sodium thiopental, one of the three drugs commonly used for lethal injection executions . The drug is no longer manufactured in the U.S.
The Arizona Supreme Court delayed Beaty's scheduled execution by several hours and Beaty is now set to die at 7:30pm MST.
Arizona had consistently argued that it had properly obtained the drug.
In a filing with the Arizona's Supreme Court the state's Attorney General said that it in order to "avoid questions about the legality " of the drug it had decided to comply with the request from United States Associate Deputy Attorney General Deborah A. Johnston.
In the filing it said it planned to substitute another fast-acting barbiturate?pentobarbital?for the sodium thiopental. Arizona law allows it to change its protocol without hearings and legislative review required by some other states?