LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A statewide ban on the executions of California inmates by lethal injection faced its strongest challenge yet on Thursday.
KNX 1070’s Claudia Peschiutta reports District Attorney Steve Cooley has asked a judge to order the execution of two longtime Death Row inmates with a court-approved single-drug protocol currently used in other parts of the country.
Motions filed by Cooley’s office called on the Los Angeles Superior Court to order the executions of Mitchell Carleton Sims, 52, and Tiequon Aundray Cox, 46, convicted killers who have been on San Quentin’s Death Row for more than two decades.
“It is the right of the Superior Court to have their duly-imposed sentences executed,” said Cooley. “It’s long overdue.”
The motions filed with the court requested that executions be ordered using a single-drug method or that the warden at San Quentin show cause why the death penalty by lethal injection should not be imposed.
Executions by lethal injection have been on hold in California for years, including the most recent stay granted by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals based on allegations that a three-drug protocol traditionally used for executions put the condemned at risk of pain and suffering.
Cooley, however, sees the issue not as a health and safety risk, but as justice deferred.
“It does make me angry,” he said. “The appropriate penalty according to law is not being meted out in a timely manner.”
Prosecutors hope to make an end-run around the state’s moratorium on executions by proposing the use of a one-drug protocol that are currently being used in the states of Ohio, Washington and Arizona.
The motions filed with the court noted that that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has acknowledged as recently as Feb. 14 of this year that it is fully capable of performing a single-drug execution — a finding that Gov. Jerry Brown has publicly supported.
But the current debate over lethal injections may ultimately be ended at the polls, where voters will decide in November whether to eliminate the death penalty in California altogether.