According to a report in The Lens, the Louisiana Department of Corrections tricked a hospital into providing one of the ingredients in a drug cocktail it was going to use in an execution.
The Lens reports that the state’s supply of pentobarbital had expired in September, and that it was having difficulty acquiring a new source because pharmaceutical companies are increasingly wary of having their product associated with state-sponsored executions. After the harrowing 25-minute-long execution of Dennis McGuire in January, the state of Louisiana agreed to delay Christoper Sepulvado’s execution for six months as it “explored” options other than the drug cocktail that Oklahoma used.
Sepulvado was convicted of torturing and beating his 6-year-old stepson, Wesley Allen Mercer, to death in 1992. In March, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R) told The Advocate that the state had acquired the drugs it needed to put Sepulvado to death, but declined to say where it had acquired them.
Despite the fact that it was the McGuire execution that initially caused the delay in his execution, the cocktail the state would use in Sepulvado’s execution was revealed to be the same one used by Oklahoma — midazolam and hydromorphone. The state, however, had no supply of hydromorphone on hand, so Sepulvado’s lawyers petitioned the court to learn as to where it had acquired the powerful pain medication.
According to a document from the Drug Enforcement Administration, the source of the drug turned out to be the Lake Charles Memorial Hospital.
Ulysses Gene Thibodeaux, a member of the nonprofit hospital’s board, told The Lens that “we assumed the drug was for one of their patients, so we sent it. We did not realize what the focus was. Had we known of the real use, we would never have [sent] it.”
“We never inquire into the purpose for it. We assume it’s for legitimate and noble purposes,” Thibodeaux continued. “We have assurances from our CEO, who is a very forthright guy, that this will not happen again.”
[Image via AFP]