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Court Filing Challenges Florida's New Execution Drug

Florida Commission on Capital Cases

A Florida death row prisoner convicted of setting a girl on fire is asking a federal judge to block the state from executing him. His court filing Tuesday is part of an ongoing case asserting Florida’s three-drug execution protocol violates the U.S. Constitution.

Dane Abdool is on death row for the 2006 burning death of Amelia Sookdeo. Tuesday’s filing asserts Florida’s new execution drug, midazolam, could violate Abdool’s Eighth Amendment freedom from cruel and unusual punishment.

Fordham University law professor Deborah Denno also filed an affidavit in the case challenging the state’s replacement of a previous execution drug it ran out of.

“It’s like going to your kitchen cupboard trying to look for something to prepare for your next meal and just looking for anything," Denno says.

Midazolam has been used in one execution this month, and reporters who witnessed it say the prisoner moved more than people had in previous executions—suggesting he might have been conscious long enough to feel pain.

The Jacksonville federal court is scheduled to hold a hearing on the new execution protocol next week.