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Court stays execution over drug origin

PHOENIX, Ark., Dec. 1 (UPI) -- The Arizona Supreme Court says it has delayed an execution until the state answers questions about how it obtained a lethal injection drug made overseas.

Sodium thiopental is used in Arizona and other states as a sedative in combination with two other drugs in lethal injection executions. But because it is not made in the United States anymore and there is no legal mechanism for it to be imported from its British manufacturer, lawyers for condemned prisoner Daniel Wayne Cook contend acquiring sodium thiopental from abroad may be illegal, The Arizona Republic reported Wednesday.

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The state's Attorney General's Office acknowledges the drug came from Britain but won't say how it got to the United States or from whom they got it.

Cook's defense attorney, Michael Meehan, has filed suit in federal court to force disclosure of the source of the drug, the newspaper said.

"That lawsuit is based, in part, on the allegation that the sodium thiopental obtained by the state of Arizona was done so in violation of federal law," Meehan wrote.

The state has until Dec. 30 to respond to Meehan's memorandum in which he notes a British ministry order prohibiting "the export of sodium thiopental into Arizona for use in executing defendant."

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