Criminal Justice

State says it has execution drugs as judge orders it to reveal plans for Sepulvado

Five days before the scheduled execution of convicted child killer Christopher Sepulvado, a federal judge ordered that the state of Louisiana tell the inmate’s lawyers how exactly he will be executed.

It appears the state of Louisiana will use a two-drug mix first used earlier this month in Ohio, where it reportedly caused convicted rapist and killer Dennis McGuire to gasp and snort before dying.

Department of Corrections spokeswoman Pam Laborde told Times-Picayune that the state has both drugs needed for the two-drug execution — the sedative midazolam and the painkiller hydromorphone.

The state does not have any pentobarbital, according to Laborde.

When asked if the state has pentobarbital, she told The Lens that nothing has changed since Monday, when the the Department of Corrections added the two-drug option to its execution guidelines because it couldn’t procure pentobarbital.

U.S. District Judge James Brady’s order was issued Friday in response to several court filings submitted in Sepulvado’s lawsuit against the state, which maintains that the inmate has a right to know how he’ll be executed.

Brady wrote that the state must respond to the remaining questions in Sepulvado’s lawsuit by 8 a.m. Monday.

Sepulvado’s lawsuit also states that the state’s secrecy surrounding the drug could result in a cruel and unusual death, which is prohibited under U.S. Constitution.

Brady’s ruling asks for the state to “produce all documents responsive” to a set of interrogatories posed by Sepulvado’s lawyers, which asks the Department of Corrections “to identify, by type, manufacturer, lot number, quantity, expiration date, and source, the drug or drugs to be used by the DOC in the lethal injections given to death row inmates.”

Alternatively, Brady said the state could also file a statement with the court that officials have already provided everything necessary.

Brady also directed the court to respond by Monday morning to Sepulvado’s lawyers’ request that the state be sanctioned for withholding documents.

Sepulvado’s lawyers have also sought a stay of execution, but no ruling has been issued on that.

Sepulvado was convicted of murder in 1993 for killing his stepson by beating him with a screwdriver and submerging his body into scalding water.

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About Della Hasselle

Della Hasselle, a freelance journalist and producer, reports environmental and criminal justice stories for The Lens. A graduate of Benjamin Franklin High School and the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, Hasselle lived in New York for 10 years. While up north, she produced and anchored news segments, wrote feature stories and reported breaking news for, a hyperlocal news site. Before that, she worked at the New York Daily News. She obtained her master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She can be reached at (917) 304-6121.