Carlton Turner is set to die today by lethal injection, two days after the U.S. Supreme Court accepted a case out of Kentucky in which two death row inmates are challenging lethal injection as cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Constitution’s 8th Amendment. A judicious course of action would be for the state of Texas to suspend executions until the Supreme Court determines whether the three drug cocktail used in Kentucky, Texas and other states does not violate the U.S. Constitution.
In 2004, the Supreme Court accepted a case regarding the constitutionality of executing juvenile offenders. Back then, after hearing of the Court’s acceptance of the case, Texas scheduled five executions of offenders who had been under 17 at the time of their crimes and refused to suspend those executions until a court compelled them. The situation is similar now. Texas should not wait for a court to tell them to stop. Executions should be suspended now and the governor should set up a commission to study executions in Texas, including the issue of lethal injection as a method and the issue of whether innocent people have been executed in Texas.
From the Houston Chronicle:
Attorneys for a suburban Dallas man condemned for killing his parents hoped a U.S. Supreme Court review of lethal injection procedures in Kentucky could keep him from the Texas death chamber Thursday evening.
Attorneys for Carlton Turner Jr. scrambled to file appeals in the courts to tie his case to one filed by two condemned inmates in Kentucky who argue the three-drug process used in lethal injection is unconstitutionally cruel. The U.S. Supreme Court this week agreed to look at the procedure, which also is used in Texas.
The inmate will be forced into a chemical straitjacket, unable to express the fact of his suffocation,” the appeal filed in Turner’s case alleged.
Turner’s lawyers asked his trial court judge in Dallas County to withdraw the execution order. That request was refused Thursday, sending the appeal to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
Rejection at the appeals court in Austin would send the case into the federal courts, said Kim Schaefer, a Dallas County prosecutor who handles capital appeals.
Office of the Governor Main Switchboard: (512) 463-2000 [office hours are 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. CST]
Office of the Governor Fax: (512) 463-1849
For anyone who wonders about stays on the day of an execution here is a number to call:TDCJ Public information—1-936-437-1303 —-just ask if the execution is still scheduled.