Louisiana Delays Execution Over Controversial Drug Method

The state's corrections department agrees to a 90-day delay over lethal injection drugs

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The Louisiana Department of Corrections agreed Monday to delay the Feb. 5 execution of death row inmate Christopher Sepulvado for 90 days, after the prisoner’s lawyers challenged the constitutionality of the state’s planned two-drug method.

Sepulvado’s lawyers argue that the state’s execution method—an injection combining hydromorphone and midazolam—would violate their client’s Eighth Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment.

The same two-drug mixture was used in the execution of Ohio inmate Dennis McGuire last month, in what witnesses described as a prolonged execution. It has never been used before in Louisiana.

(MORE: Ohio’s Lethal Injection Experiment)

Sepulvado, who was convicted for killing his 6-year-old stepson more than two decades ago, was scheduled to die on Wednesday. But the state’s corrections department agreed to a 90-day delay to “allow for additional time for review and responses to outstanding issues related to the execution,” according to a statement released Monday afternoon by the corrections department. A federal judge will hear constitutional challenges to the state’s execution method on April 7.