San Francisco Chronicle: Killer’s execution rescheduled
Delay comes before doctors walk out; new lethal injection set for 7:30 p.m.
The execution of Michael Morales for the 1981 rape and murder of a teenage Lodi girl was postponed early today when two anesthesiologists balked at their court-ordered assignment to make sure Morales remained unconscious during the lethal injection.
San Quentin State Prison’s warden quickly rescheduled the execution for 7:30 tonight by eliminating the anesthesiologists’ role and ordering that Morales be put to death with one drug, the powerful barbiturate sodium pentothal, instead of the three that the state has used since 1996. A federal judge had given the state that option but officials had previously rejected it, because it would take an estimated 30 to 45 minutes to kill the inmate instead of the usual eight to 10 minutes.
This delay of execution is BS and delays the justice for Terri Lynn Winchell heinous murder.
Morales should have been executed this morning and the last minute “TAMPERING AND MANIPULATION” of the legal system is to blame.
The voters of California have overwhelmingly voted to restore the death penalty (through the Briggs Initiative). The California and federal courts have done nothing but obstruct and hinder the law for decades. The California Death Penalty Process is BROKEN.
So, what is the FLAP with the anesthesiologists walking out?
The apparent sticking point was the physicians’ obligation, under procedures specified by a federal appeals court in a ruling Sunday, to intervene if Morales appeared to regain consciousness or displayed signs of pain. The court said the
“Any such intervention would clearly be medically unethical,” the doctors said in a written statement today. “As a result, we have withdrawn from participation in this current process.”
So, the 9th Circuit essentially ordered the physicians to kill Morales if they thought he regained consciousness and/or was suffering. The original order by federal judge Jeremy Fogel was inane and was biased towards delay. Fogel ordered:
1. Fogel said state authorities can postpone the execution that’s set for next Tuesday and defend their current procedure in a two-day court hearing, starting May 2.
2. The State of California can substitute a barbiturate or combination of barbiturates for the three-drug series they currently plan on using.
3. The State of California can station an experienced anesthesiologist in the execution chamber to verify that Morales is unconscious when he’s supposed to be.
Now, San Quentin State Prison’s warden rescheduled the execution for tonight at 7:30 PM using option 2 as ordered.
However, there are a couple of wrinkles in the case:
1. No doubt there will be appeals to this option 2 today – asking the federal court for the May 2nd Hearing or a later one. They will ask the court for the hearing due to the unusual and cruel nature of this mornings last minute delay.
2. No doubt there will be a request for an evidentiary hearing stating that option two by barbituates is “cruel and unusual punishment.” Look for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to weigh in here.
3. The “Death Warrant” expires at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday. If the execution is not carried out before then, a Superior Court judge would have no more than 60 days to set another execution date. And would that warrant be easy to obtain, since the Ventura County trial judge, Charles McGrath has repudiated his sentence?
Flap is NOT optimistic that Terri Lynn Winchell will receive JUSTICE today.
Death penalty opponent Frank Guerrero holds up a sign and a Mexican flag at the front gate of San Quentin Prison in San Quentin, Calif., Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2006, before the scheduled execution of Michael Morales, which was delayed until Tuesday night after two anesthesiologists refused to participate because of ethical concerns. Guerrero says he is a close personal friend of Morales, who is Mexican-American.