Arizona got execution drug from England, AG says

State becomes first to acknowledge obtaining a chemical used in lethal injection manufactured overseas.

Topics: Death Penalty,

The state attorney general’s office said Tuesday that Arizona’s supply of a drug used in lethal injections came from England, marking the first time a state has acknowledged obtaining sodium thiopental from an overseas source since a shortage of the drug started affecting executions in the U.S. this year.

Chief Deputy Attorney General Tim Nelson said the state revealed the drug’s origins to let the public know it comes from a trustworthy source. However, he did not name the company that manufactured it.

“This drug came from a reputable place,” he said. “There’s all sorts of wild speculation that it came from a third-world country, and that’s not accurate.”

The execution of Jeffrey Landrigan had been scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday but it remained on hold after a federal judge issued a stay because of questions about the drug’s origins.

Landrigan’s lawyers are challenging the use of the English drug because it is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. They contend he could be suffocated painfully if the sodium thiopental, one of three drugs in Arizona’s lethal injection protocol, doesn’t render him unconscious.

U.S. District Judge Roslyn Silver on Monday ruled that was a legitimate concern and blocked the execution of Landrigan, who was convicted of first-degree murder in the 1989 strangulation and stabbing death of Chester Dyer of Phoenix.

You Might Also Like

The state says Silver’s order should be lifted because the U.S. Supreme Court has made clear that Food and Drug Administration approval isn’t necessary for the drugs used in executions.

After the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to lift Silver’s stay, the state filed a motion with the Supreme Court and was awaiting word on whether it can proceed with the execution.

“We’re 20 years in and we’re not arguing over guilt or innocence,” said interim Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley, whose office prosecuted Landrigan about two decades ago. “We have lawyers fighting lawyers.”

Romley said the delay is one reason the public has lost some of its faith in the criminal justice system.

Sodium thiopental is in short supply nationally.

California called off an execution last month on the day that its remaining supply of the drug expired. The shortage also delayed an Oklahoma execution in August and led Kentucky’s governor to postpone the signing of death warrants for two inmates.

The sole U.S. manufacturer of sodium thiopental, Hospira Inc. of Lake Forest, Ill., has blamed the shortage on unspecified supply problems and said new batches won’t be available until January at the earliest.


Welsh-Huggins reported from Columbus, Ohio.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 8
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Sonic's Bacon Double Cheddar Croissant Dog

    Sonic calls this a "gourmet twist" on a classic. I am not so, so fancy, but I know that sprinkling bacon and cheddar cheese onto a tube of pork is not gourmet, even if you have made a bun out of something that is theoretically French.

    Krispy Kreme

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Krispy Kreme's Doughnut Dog

    This stupid thing is a hotdog in a glazed doughnut bun, topped with bacon and raspberry jelly. It is only available at Delaware's Frawley Stadium, thank god.


    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    KFC's Double Down Dog

    This creation is notable for its fried chicken bun and ability to hastily kill your dreams.

    Pizza Hut

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Pizza Hut's Hot Dog Bites Pizza

    Pizza Hut basically just glued pigs-in-blankets to the crust of its normal pizza. This actually sounds good, and I blame America for brainwashing me into feeling that.

    Carl's Jr.

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Carl's Jr. Most American Thick Burger

    This is a burger stuffed with potato chips and hot dogs. Choose a meat, America! How hard is it to just choose a meat?!

    Tokyo Dog

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Tokyo Dog's Juuni Ban

    A food truck in Seattle called Tokyo Dog created this thing, which is notable for its distinction as the Guinness Book of World Records' most expensive hot dog at $169. It is a smoked cheese bratwurst, covered in butter Teriyaki grilled onions, Maitake mushrooms, Wagyu beef, foie gras, black truffles, caviar and Japanese mayo in a brioche bun. Just calm down, Tokyo Dog. Calm down.


    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Limp Bizkit's "Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water"

    This album art should be illegal.

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>