Death Penalty
11:51 am
Fri October 11, 2013

Execution Using Controversial Drug Halted By Missouri Governor, Requires Different Injection Method

Last updated 1:30 p.m. Will be updated further.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has responded to the recent controversy surrounding the execution drug propofol by halting the execution of a Missouri inmate, and asking that a different form of lethal injection be used.

Here's Nixon's full statement: 

“As Governor, my interest is in making sure justice is served and public health is protected.  That is why, in light of the issues that have been raised surrounding the use of propofol in executions, I have directed the Department of Corrections that the execution of Allen Nicklasson, as set for October 23, will not proceed. I have further directed the Department to modify the State of Missouri’s Execution Protocol to include a different form of lethal injection.  The Attorney General will immediately request a new execution date for Allen Nicklasson from the Missouri Supreme Court.”

The Governor's response to the situation is a departure from his statement at the beginning of the week. On Monday,  Nixon told reporters that the state would carry out its executions as scheduled, provided the courts didn’t intervene.

“We are very cognizant of the attention this is drawing and the potential challenges that are out there," Nixon said on Monday. "But we are resolute that the issue should be one that is played out by a court of law so that the consistency of this can be maintained.”

Fresenius Kabi, a German company, is the leading manufacturer of propofol. In a statement, they say they "take no position on capital punishment, but the company objects to the use of Propofol in lethal injection." The company issued a statement following today's news praising Nixon's actions, excerpted below:

“I want to thank Governor Nixon for his leadership on this important issue,” said John Ducker, CEO, Fresenius Kabi USA.  “This is a decision that will be welcomed by the medical community and patients nationwide who were deeply concerned about the potential of a drug shortage.  We are hopeful other states follow Governor Nixon’s lead on this vital matter of public health.”

Questions regarding how Missouri even acquired its supply of the drug in the first place have also been raised, though few answers about that process have surfaced.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri, which filed suit earlier this week to access documents that could help determine where the state got its supply of propofol, issued this tweet in response to Nixon's announcement:

ACLU Legal Director Tony Rothert said the union is not finished investigating the Department of Correction's supply of propofol. 

"We're still interested in getting the public records and letting the public find out how Missouri got propofol," Rothert said. "The Governor's decision to postpone an execution makes us all the more curious to find out what's in the documents the Missouri Department of Corrections has been hiding."

(Reporting from Chris McDaniel and Veronique LaCapra also used in this report).