Fla. top court delays execution

July 26, 2011 at 11:35 AM
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla., July 26 (UPI) -- The Florida Supreme Court has delayed the execution of a man who killed a policeman, pending a hearing on the safety of a new drug used in lethal injections.

The court temporarily stayed the execution of Manuel Valle, convicted of shooting and killing Coral Gables police officer Louis Pena in April 1978, pending a hearing over the state's new use of a drug in its lethal injections, The Miami Herald reported.

Gov. Rick Scott signed the death warrant setting Aug. 2 for Valle's execution. The high court delayed execution until Sept. 1 and ordered a hearing on Florida's change from one anesthetic to another as part of its cocktail of three lethal drugs.

The Florida Department of Corrections approved using pentobarbital to replace sodium thiopental, the barbiturate the state had been using until the pharmaceutical company announced earlier this year it was ending production of the drug, the Herald said. Valle, the first inmate facing execution under the new drug protocol, raised questions about whether the use of pentobarbital in the amount prescribed by the state could cause him to suffer pain.

"We're disappointed," said Jeneane Skeen, one of Pena's daughters, who was 13 when her father was killed. "It's ridiculous. The legality of the lethal injection -- how legal was it for him to have my dad drown in his own blood?"

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