New lethal injection drug to be used tonight in Huntsville

Published: Sep. 26, 2013 at 9:23 PM CDT
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LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Just last month, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice announced it was out of the drug it uses for lethal injections. But tonight, one man is set to die using a new form of the lethal injection even though the origins of the drugs are still a mystery.

TDCJ officials are planning to use the new form of pentobarbital, a barbiturate commonly referred to as a physician-assisted suicide drug. The expiration date of the department's existing lethal drug inventory did pass this month, and officials announced in August that they were looking into nontraditional sources for execution.

However, TDCJ spokesperson told KTRE News today that he will not comment on the amount of the drug they have left and where the new drug has come from.

"TDCJ's current execution protocol calls for using the drug pentobarbital for executions. That is the drug that will be used tonight. Our execution protocol has not changed and we have no immediate plans to do so. I will not comment beyond this statement at this time," Clark said in the written statement.

The lethal injection, which is the practice of injecting a person with a fatal dose of drugs, has been the main style of executions in Texas since 1982 when Charles Brooks Jr. was the first person to be executed with the drug.

In 2011, TDCJ used pentobarbital in a three-drug protocol. Last year, TDCJ announced they only had enough lethal injection drugs for 23 more executions and began using a one-drug format of pentobarbital. The maker of sodium thiopental, Denmark's Lundbeck LLC, objected to its use in executions and Hospira Inc., the maker of pentobarbital, has also announced it is halting production of its drug.

It's still unclear what will happen in the future for lethal injections in Texas and what the TDCJ is actually using. According to the TDCJ web site, there are 8 executions scheduled until February 2014.

Arturo Diaz, from the Rio Grande Valley, is set to die at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville for murdering a man 14 years ago by stabbing him 94 times and then robbing the man of $50. An appeal was denied by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday and Diaz's attorneys announced Thursday morning they were filing an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court. If Diaz is executed he will be the 13th execution this year in Texas and the 505th execution in total.

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