Execution delayed by Fla. Supreme Court

By Matt Horn, Reporter, Capitol News Service
Published On: Nov 22 2013 04:36:46 PM EST
Florida State Seal
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -

A convicted killer's execution is being delayed by the Florida Supreme Court. The state will have to prove a new lethal injection cocktail isn't cruel and unusual punishment.

Thomas Knight has been on death row since 1983. Gov. Rick Scott scheduled his execution for early December, but a 5-2 Florida Supreme Court decision has delayed the execution.

Concerns are being raised over the effectiveness of a new drug in the lethal cocktail. Death penalty opponents support the delay.

"I think were going to find out a lot about this drug and we're going to find out what's really going on," said Sheila Meehan. "I think that we're going to find out that this drug may not be able to be used in this combination in the future."

The new drug has been used in two executions, after an approved drug became unavailable. The fear is that the new drug won't keep the inmate from feeling pain, before two other drugs complete the execution.

"The purpose here is not vengeance and that this person cannot suffer, and the Supreme Court has said this cannot be cruel and unusual punishment," said Meehan.

Gov. Scott brushed aside questions on the ruling.

"What is your take with the Supreme Court ruling? Secondly, how can you assure that the cocktail is safe?" Scott was asked.

"You'll have to go work with the Department of Corrections," Scott replied.

The Department of Corrections refused request for an on-camera interview.

Opponents call the cocktail a human experiment. The DOC said in October they did thorough research before using the drug.

"It is our job to do that in the most dignified and humane way possible," Misty Cash of the DOC said in mid-October.

The state must produce drug manufacturer documents proving the drug effectively blocks pain.

Florida and other states have been forced to seek new execution drugs after a growing number of drug makers refuse to allow their products to be used in executions.

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