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Spokesman says state has new lethal injection

– Indiana will use a new drug as part of its lethal injection protocol whenever it carries out its next execution, a prison spokesman said.

A nationwide shortage of thiopental sodium has forced states that conduct lethal injection executions to search for alternatives, and Indiana has settled on a barbiturate anesthetic in the same class called Brevital, Indiana Department of Correction spokesman Doug Garrison told the Post-Tribune.

Oklahoma’s botched execution of convicted murderer Clayton Lockett on April 29 touched off a national debate over the death penalty. Because of opposition to the death penalty by suppliers of thiopental sodium, Oklahoma experimented with a sedative called midazolam as part of its three-drug protocol when it executed Lockett. Lockett died of an apparent heart attack 43 minutes after the start of his execution.

The three-drug protocol Indiana uses starts with Brevital, followed by pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride. Indiana has a sufficient supply of drugs for an execution, Garrison said.

“It could be this year,” he said.

Thirteen inmates are on the state’s death row at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City, but none has an execution date. Garrison said the inmate closest to having an execution date set is Michael Overstreet. Overstreet was convicted in the 1997 slaying of 18-year-old Franklin College student Kelly Eckart.

Overstreet’s appeals are nearly exhausted, and a ruling is expected soon on his latest challenge claiming that he’s mentally incompetent to be executed.

Indiana is one of 32 states with the death penalty. Indiana has executed 20 men since 1976, when the U.S. Supreme Court lifted the ban on capital punishment. Indiana’s last execution was Dec. 11, 2009, when Matthew Eric Wrinkles was put to death for the 1994 slayings of his wife, her brother, and a sister-in-law in Evansville.