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Texas death row inmate seeks reprieve over source of execution supplies

By Daniel Uria

Nov. 29 (UPI) -- A Texas death row inmate is seeking a reprieve from the governor after a BuzzFeed report that the state purchased lethal injection drugs from a pharmacy whose license is on probation.

Attorneys for Joseph Garcia, a so-called "Texas 7" escapee set to be executed Tuesday, sent a letter to Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott seeking a 30-day reprieve on the grounds that the state had obtained the drugs it uses to carry out lethal injections from a compounding pharmacy "that regulators have repeatedly cited for dangerous practices" over the past three and a half years.

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"The fact that Texas may be relying on a compounding pharmacy for pentobarbital, which is a sterile injectable, subjects our client, Joseph Garcia, to the unreasonable risk of a cruel execution," the attorneys wrote.

On Wednesday, BuzzFeed reported that Houston's Greenpark Compounding Pharmacy, which has been cited by state regulators for 48 violations over the past eight years, is one of two pharmacies that have been creating execution drugs for Texas for two years.

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The citations included keeping out-of-date drugs in stock, using improper procedures to prepare intravenous solutions, and inadequately cleaning hands and gloves, BuzzFeed reported.

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"Given the gravity of the allegations that counsel has recently learned about Texas's questionable practices regarding the procurement of pentobarbital and the danger of a constitutional violation during Mr. Garcia's execution, it is imperative that counsel have the opportunity to investigate the allegations against TDCJ and challenge as appropriate Texas's lethal injection protocol," the lawyers wrote.

Five of the eleven prisoners executed by Texas this year said the drug felt like it was burning and a sixth writhed and shook after being injected, although death from pentobarbital is supposed to be painless.

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Attorneys for death row inmates previously warned receiving the drug from compounding pharmacies could result in painful executions, which amount to torture, as they aren't subject to the same safety standards as pharmaceutical manufacturers.

Garcia has two pending appeals -- one out of Bexar County and the other from Dallas -- as well as a long-shot request for clemency awaiting approval from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, in addition to the new request for reprieve.

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