A knockout drug that Arizona plans to use in an upcoming execution was not made by the sole U.S. manufacturer, which means it likely came from another country, attorneys said during and after a state Supreme Court hearing Wednesday.
Jeffrey Landrigan, 50, is scheduled to die by lethal injection Tuesday for a 1989 killing.
His lawyers argue that using the drug sodium thiopental that has expired or was obtained from an unreliable source may not work correctly, potentially subjecting Landrigan to cruel and unusual punishment through death by suffocation.
They want the Supreme Court to order the state to disclose the source of the drug.
But prosecutors said they can’t identify the source because state law requires confidentiality for those involved with executions.
However, Assistant Attorney General Kent Cattani did say when questioned by justices during a hearing Wednesday that Arizona obtained its supply from a lawful source and that Hospira Inc., the only U.S. maker of the drug, didn’t produce it.
What Cattani said about Hospira means Arizona’s source must be foreign, Dale Baich, a lawyer for Landrigan, said after the hearing.
Hospira is currently not making the drug and it is in short supply nationally.
The court did not rule immediately on that issue or two other defense motions to stop the clock on the execution, which would be the state’s first since 2007.
One of the stay requests claims Landrigan couldn’t get a fair decision from Gov. Jan Brewer on a commutation request because of her election concerns.
Prosecutors said the motion amounts to speculation and noted that Brewer can only consider commuting Landrigan’s sentence to life in prison if a state board recommends she do so.
The defense’s other stay request argues that Landrigan is entitled to have additional DNA testing conducted on evidence that it said a defense scientist inadvertently didn’t process.
Prosecutors contend additional testing isn’t necessary because at most it would indicate another person was present, which they contend was the case.
Landrigan faces a death sentence for the 1989 killing of Chester Dyer, of Phoenix. Dyer was stabbed and strangled in his apartment in a killing that authorities attributed to a robbery motive.