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Inmate Appealing To U.S. Supreme Court After Fla. High Court Says Execution Drug OK


A Florida death row inmate is again on schedule to be executed Wednesday after the state Supreme Court rejected his challenge of a new lethal injection drug. Lawyers for convicted state trooper-killer Paul Howell are appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Since Florida executioners started using the drug midazolam in October, several death row inmates have legally challenged it, saying it might not fully knock them out before the otherwise painful drugs that actually end their life are administered. Howell’s case was the first state appeal to include expert testimony on the drug. But his attorney Sonya Rudenstine says the state wasn’t required to prove whether the drug fully sedates people. That’s why she’s asking the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in.

“Otherwise they could just pick any drug out of a hat. They could just use rat poison or some magic pill they’ve discovered that they say will kill painlessly and they would have to make no scientific showing that that is indeed the case," Rudenstine says.

In the Florida Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling, justices write Howell’s attorneys failed to prove midazolam poses a “substantial risk of serious harm” to the prisoner.